Many of us use Facebook to communicate with friends and family. It is growing in popularity, and consequently has drawn significant attention from criminals. Currently, several Facebook attacks have been publicized by the media (see the BBC link below). The concern is that the attacks seem to be “proof-of-concept” attacks. Criminals are analyzing the impact of their attacks — what weaknesses do they reveal? They look for user tendencies (what kind of message are they likely to respond to?) and Facebook’s network security (where are the holes?). They are learning as they go along, and looking for vulnerabilities that they can exploit.
Facebook attack: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7918839.stm
Another virus that impacts networks directly is the Conficker virus. This virus spreads through USB memory devices. This virus, in particular, has been nasty. It has caused billions of dollars in losses, and has infected over 10 million computers (that we know of). It adapts very quickly, so even anti-virus protection doesn’t guarantee protection. The U.S. military had a hard time containing an outbreak in Afghanistan last year. Security specialists haven’t been able to identify the source of the virus, or its intent. They are not even sure if there are dormant variations out in the Internet, waiting for a trigger to activate them.
Conficker attack: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7832652.stm
The lesson is to be cautious about the services you use on the Internet, and the devices you plug into your computer. You can make your home environment and ours vulnerable to attack, if you are careless. The criminals keep getting smarter. It is no longer easy identifying them by poor English or other obvious signs of misrepresentation. They are sophisticated and well-funded, and persistent!