Published on October 22, 2012 | by Daniel Brown

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Computer worm targets Skype users

Skype Logo

Skype

Computer hackers are using the popular internet communications program Skype to distribute a “worm” that corrupts PCs.

Skype users unknowingly download a hidden file when they open what appears as an instant message from a contact reading “LOL is this your new profile pic?”.

The file, a ‘worm’ called “Dorkbot”, spreads through instant messaging applications and opens up the infected computer to unauthorised access.

The program then sends the same instant message, along with a copy of the hidden file, to every member of that person’s contact list.

“I received an instant message from what appeared to be Facebook, and to respond to what I thought was a message from my friend, I had to enter my login details as the site requires normally.”

Nathan Hope

The file has the potential to hold the users to ransom, and orders that $200 is paid within 48 hours of download to prevent file destruction on the infected machine.

Dorkbot worms can also interfere with the settings of a computer, run other programs which overwhelm websites (known as a distributed denial of service attack), and give the hacker the opportunity to install more malicious software, or malware, to the corrupted system at any point.

Victim

Phishing emails masquerade as communications from trustworthy sites in an attempt to con unsuspicious members of the public into handing over their login details.

Nathan Hope, 20, studying at Bournemouth University explained that even though he had learnt about phishing in ICT at A-level, he was still a victim of an instant message attack.

“I received an instant message from what appeared to be Facebook, and to respond to what I thought was a message from my friend, I had to enter my login details as the site requires normally.”

After entering your details the hackers will have access to your account and send your contact list further links in the hope that they also enter their details.

Mr Hope added: “It is all part of a long drawn out process which can be used in fraud and other crimes.”

Graham Cluley, a Senior Technology Consultant at internet security specialist Sophos, explained that this new strategy used by the hackers is very effective.

He explained: “There is an air of authenticity because the message looks as though it has been sent from a friend in your contacts list, and this means that the recipient is more likely to click on it and open the file.

Cautious

“The file is used to disable the hijacked PC and allow hackers the ability to identify usernames and passwords to accounts on websites like Facebook, PayPal and eBay for example.

“We are aware of this malicious activity and are working quickly to mitigate its impact.”

Skype

“It is possible that Skype users will not be as cautious with these instances as Facebook users are for example where it is far more prevalent.”

A 2009 ‘Get Safe Online’ survey, found that students and young adults are most at risk from these types of internet security attacks, even though they are widely regarded as being the generation which is most computer literate.

They remind young people to be wary when using internet calling services such as Skype, by updating as regularly as possible, carefully selecting only people you know on your contact list and that if you are persuaded to part with bank details to call your bank immediately.

In a statement, Skype said, “Skype takes the user experience very seriously, particularly when it comes to security.

“We are aware of this malicious activity and are working quickly to mitigate its impact.”

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