– A new variant of a well-known virus uses Christmas to spread via Facebook

– Christmas is one of hackers’ favorite seasons. Every year a new virus manages to trick numerous users exploiting the festive season as bait


Facebook is a favorite hunting ground for hackers. The vast pool of users offered by this popular social network and the ease with which accounts can be hacked make it a highly attractive channel for spreading malware. Such is the case with the latest variant of a well-known worm: Koobface.GK. The bait consists of a Christmas greetings video hosted on a YouTube page. On playing the video, or clicking a link on the page, users will download and install the worm.  Image available at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/panda_security/4166135978/

When the virus is installed on a computer, the following image appears (http://www.flickr.com/photos/panda_security/4166136042/) and if users fail to enter the corresponding ‘captcha’ (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart), it threatens to reboot the computer within three minutes. When the three minutes are up, nothing happens, but the computer is rendered unusable. Every time the captcha text is entered, the worm registers a new domain where the video will be hosted in order to continue being distributed.

According to Luis Corrons, Technical Director of PandaLabs, “social networks have become one of the methods most frequently used by hackers to spread their creations, due to the false sense of security many users have regarding the content published on these networks.  Users generally trust the messages and content they receive, and consequently hackers get a high level of response through these channels”.

Christmas: hackers’ favorite time of year

Internet users often send Christmas greetings to their family and friends over the Web. Infection figures are always high at this time of the year, as new viruses emerge that take advantage of this increased user activity. 

Every Christmas we see new malware designed specifically for the festive season:

– MerryX.A appeared in 2005. It reached users’ computers in a Christmas greetings email with an attachment (http://www.flickr.com/photos/panda_security/4165379077/). It was really a Trojan designed to capture keystrokes and steal information. It managed to infect over 50,000 Internet users in only a week. More information: https://www.pandasecurity.com/homeusers/security-info/101654/MerryX.A

– Zafi.D. Although this worm appeared in 2002, it is still distributed through emails that use Christmas greetings as bait. It opens a port on the infected computer without users’ knowledge and downloads another Trojan.
– The Navidad (Christmas in Spanish) malware family has numerous variants. These astute worms appeared in 2007. They are difficult to detect because they reach computers as a reply to an email which has previously been sent to another (infected) recipient. The message includes the Navidad.exe file which infects computers when run.

Here are a few security tips from PandaLabs when using social networks: 

1) Don’t click suspicious links from non-trusted sources. This should apply to messages received through Facebook, and through other social networks and even via email.

2) If you click on the links, check the target page. If you don’t recognize it, close your browser.

3) Even if you don’t see anything strange in the target page, but you are asked to download something, don’t accept.

4) If you do download or install an executable file and the PC starts to launch messages, there is probably malware on your computer.

5) As a general rule, make sure your computer is well protected, to ensure that you are not exposed to the risk of infection from any malicious code. You can protect yourself with the new, free Panda Cloud Antivirus solution (www.cloudantivirus.com).