Author:
Kerry Kavanaugh
Category:
Community

ABC Action News Interview: Facebook Safety Advice

Published: August 26, 2009
TAMPA, FL -- "I never thought of that happening with social networking. I hadn't even heard of it happening," says local radio host for WFLA, Jack Harris.

But, Jack Harris found out the hard way there are many faces to social networking sites and not all of them are friendly. Harris says he uses Facebook to keep in touch with more than two thousand friends and strangers, but had no idea he was sending them all a video embedded with a virus.

"And I thought what? What are you talking about? And I clicked on it and got the virus I guess and sure enough it was," he says.

"There can be vulnerabilities in any of the social networking sites," says Greg Pierce, a security specialist with Tampa's Tribridge information technologies. He says internet security isn't just for online banking or credit card transactions. Hackers are breaking into your social cyberspace.

For example, the virus jack unknowingly sent, called the Koobface virus, asked his Facebook friends to download a "cooool video."

"In that case it looks like it's asking you download Adobe Flash Player in reality it downloads a malicious piece of code," Pierce says.

He says to play it safe, never click on a link in email, on Facebook, or any site that you weren't expecting, no matter who sent it. Instead, Pierce suggests manually entering it in the site.

"If you type the link in manually then you know you're going to that site. If you click on it within your email even though it looks or may say it's going to that site it may link you somewhere else," he says.

The longer you're on logged in to sites like Facebook, MySpace, or Twitter, the more vulnerable you are to a hacker. Frequently log off. That includes logging off from your mobile devices too.

How often do you change your password? Pierce says ideally you should update it every 30 days once a week is even better. And make it a strong password.

"Ideally you'd want it to be 14 characters and you'd want it to include words or letters and characters."

And when you enter it, don't prompt the site to remember it for you. Store it only in your head.

As always make sure you have to most up to date antivirus software. You can also click here for steps on preventing the Koobface worm.