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Twitter DDoS Attack Reminds Us to Reinforce Safe Web Habits

Today, Facebook, LiveJournal, and most visibly Twitter were sabotaged by a distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack. What’s not clear is exactly why these sites were targeted. Current speculation is that the Koobface worm, whose name is a Facebook anagram, may be responsible for the attacks. A fresh wave of infections from a new variant of the worm supports this possibility. Let this serve as a warning that we can never remind our users too often about safe surfing practices.

First, trust your instincts. If you get an email message or a Facebook wall posting from a friend that contains a file or link, and their language seems uncharacteristic, it’s likely to be a virus. Koobface lures you in by appearing to be a video posted by a friend. When the link is clicked, it takes you to a page which then tells you to update to the latest version of Adobe Flash. When you consent to the update, you install the worm. The worm then propagates by posting the link on your friends’ Facebook walls. The worm can also propagate using Twitter, tweeting “My Home Video J” followed by a random exclamation and a link that installs the worm on its victims computers.

Be aware of fake antivirus/antispyware software. If you get a pop-up message that appears to be a program claiming to scan your computer for viruses, be wary. Unless you recognize it as the behavior of your installed anti-malware, it’s almost certainly malware trying to infect your computer. The safest way to back out of this situation is to hit CTRL+ALT+DEL and open the Task Manager to end the offending task.

Trust no one. Don’t install applications from untrusted sources. Be wary of opening unanticipated attachments even from people you know. Never assume that an email that appears to be from a trusted source is genuine. Your bank will never email you a link to confirm your account information.

Update your system! Keeping Windows, your browser, and your anti-malware software up-to-date is critical to keeping your system free from malware.

Scan your system! Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is a free and effective anti-malware app that I use and recommend.

Be careful out there! My twitter followers depend on it.

Michael Scalisi is an IT manager based in Alameda, California.

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