A post currently circulating on Facebook is warning users not to accept messages from their friends that ask them to watch a video on YouTube. The first part of the circulating message contains elements of truth that should be heeded. But, the message also contains outdated, inaccurate, and misleading information as detailed below.
According to the post, the YouTube messages contain a trojan worm called Koobface that can steal your information and infest your computer. The post claims that urban legend website Snopes has confirmed the threat and asks you to share the warning with others.
In fact, there has been a series of malicious Facebook messages in recent months that try to trick you into clicking a link by falsely claiming that you have been featured in a YouTube video. If you click the link you may be taken to a scam website that is designed to steal your Facebook login details. Alternatively, you may be taken to a website that harbours malware.
Facebook users should certainly keep an eye out for these scam messages, which are distributed via Facebook’s private message system. If you receive one, do not click on any links that it contains.
However, these messages, while malicious, have no connection to the Koobface worm.
Koobface is the name given to a real threat that started circulating back in 2008. The worm circulated via social networking website messages, including Facebook. Online criminals could take control of Koobface infected computers and use them to distribute further malware and steal sensitive information.
Koobface is considered less of a threat these days than it was when it first began being distributed. Unfortunately, the initial threat has spawned a series of overblown and inaccurate “warning” messages that have circulated via social media in the years since. The current warning message is just the latest version of these inaccurate warnings.
And, for the record, Snopes has not confirmed the information as claimed. In fact, Snopes notes that current incarnations of these Koobface warnings are outdated and “have mutated into versions which are largely hoaxes”.
Bottom line? You should certainly be wary of Facebook messages that appear to be related to YouTube. And, you can help curtail the spread of these malicious messages by warning your friends about them.
However, sharing this outdated and misleading message is not a good way to make people aware of the current threat.
Note also that more generic variations of the malicious Facebook messages may not mention YouTube at all but simply claim instead that you have been seen in a video or photograph. Again, links in the messages open malicious websites.
An example of the warning:
THERE IS A VIRUS SPEADING LIKE WILDFIRE ON FB. DO NOT ACCEPT ANYTHING FROM ANY OF YOUR FRIENDS THAT ASK YOU TO WATCH A VIDEO ON YOUTUBE. SNOPES JUST CONFIRMED. IT IS A TROJAN WORM VIRUS CALLED KOOBFACE. IT WILL STEAL INFO, INFEST YOUR SYSTEM AND SHUT IT DOWN. DO NOT OPEN THE LINK. PLEASE SHARE