|Point of Origin||Russia|
Koobface is a multi-platform computer worm that originally targeted users of the networking websites like Facebook, Skype, Yahoo Messenger and email websites such as Google Mail, Yahoo Mail, and AOL Mail.), MySpace, hi5, Bebo, Friendster and Twitter. In the later versions it has stopped using those websites because they improved their protection. Koobface is designed to infect Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X, but also can infect Linux.
Koobface ultimately attempts, upon successful infection, to gather login information for FTP sites, Facebook, Skype, and other social media platforms, but not any sensitive financial data. It then uses compromised computers to build a peer-to-peer botnet. A compromised computer contacts other compromised computers to receive commands in a peer-to-peer fashion. The botnet is used to install additional pay-per-install malware on the compromised computer as well as hijack search queries to display advertisements. Its peer-to-peer topology is also used in showing fake messages to other users with the purpose of expanding the botnet. It was first detected in December 2008 and a more potent version appeared in March 2009. A study by the Information Warfare Monitor, a joint collaboration from SecDev Group and the Citizen Lab in the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University Toronto, has revealed that the operators of this scheme have generated over $2 million in revenue from June 2009 to June 2010.
Koobface originally spread by delivering Facebook messages to people who are 'friends' of a Facebook user whose computer has already been infected. Upon receipt, the message directs the recipients to a third-party website (or another Koobface infected PC), where they are prompted to download what is purported to be an update of the Adobe Flash player. If they download and execute the file, Koobface is able to infect their system. It can then commandeer the computer's search engine use and direct it to contaminated websites. There can also be links to the third-party website on the Facebook wall of the friend the message came from sometimes having comments like LOL or YOUTUBE. If the link is opened the trojan virus will infect the computer and the PC will become a Zombie or Host Computer.
Among the components downloaded by Koobface are a DNS filter program that blocks access to well known security websites and a proxy tool that enables the attackers to abuse the infected PC. At one time the Koobface gang also used Limbo, a password stealing program.
Several variants of the worm have been identified:
- Net-Worm.Win32.Koobface.a, which attacks MySpace
- Net-Worm.Win32.Koobface.b, which attacks Facebook
- WORM_KOOBFACE.DC, which attacks Twitter
- W32/Koobfa-Gen, which attacks Facebook, MySpace, hi5, Bebo, Friendster, myYearbook, Tagged, Netlog, Badoo and fubar
- OSX/Koobface.A, a Mac version which spreads via social networks such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.
In January 2012, the New York Times reported that Facebook was planning to share information about the Koobface gang, and name those it believed were responsible. Investigations by German researcher Jan Droemer and the University of Alabama at Birmingham's Center for Information Assurance and Joint Forensics Research were said to have helped uncover the identities of those responsible.
Facebook finally revealed the names of the suspects behind the worm on January 17, 2012. They include Stanislav Avdeyko (leDed), Alexander Koltyshev (Floppy), Anton Korotchenko (KrotReal), Roman P. Koturbach (PoMuc), Svyatoslav E. Polichuck (PsViat and PsycoMan). They are based in St. Petersburg, Russia. The group is sometimes referred to as Ali Baba & 4 with Stanislav Avdeyko as the leader. The investigation also connected Avdeyko with CoolWebSearch spyware.
The Koobface threat is also the subject of many hoax warnings designed to trick social networking users into spreading misinformation across the Internet. Various anti-scam websites such as Snopes.com and ThatsNonsense.com have recorded many instances where alarmist messages designed to fool and panic Facebook users have begun to circulate prolifically using the widely publicized Koobface threat as bait. The "Barack Obama-Clinton Scandal" hoax which was popular in 2010 is an example.
Other misconceptions have spread regarding the Koobface threat, including the false assertion that accepting "hackers" as Facebook friends will infect a victim's computer with Koobface, or that Facebook applications are themselves Koobface threats. These claims are untrue. Other rumours assert that Koobface is much more dangerous than other examples of malware and has the ability to delete all of your computer files and "burn your hard disk." However, these rumours are inspired by earlier fake virus warning hoaxes and remain false.
- Deibert, Ron; Rafal Rohozinski (Nov 12, 2010). "The untouchable hackers of St. Petersburg: Meet Koobface, Facebook's evil doppelgänger". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 16 November 2010.
- US-CERT Malicious Code Targeting Social Networking Site Users, added March 4, 2009, at 11:53 am
- Twitter Status - Koobface malware attack, added July 9, 2009 at 11:24 am
- New Koobface variant infects Linux systems
- Linux Java-Based Trojan Might Have Been an Accident
- "More Information About the Koobface Trojan Horse for Mac". The Mac Security Blog. October 29, 2010. Retrieved 2012-01-20.
- Koobface: Inside a Crimeware Network
- Information From Symantec
- Keizer, Gregg (March 2, 2009). "Koobface worm to users: Be my Facebook friend". Computerworld. Retrieved 2009-08-31.
- Microsoft Virus Definition
- Koobface malware distribution technique - automatic user account creation on FaceBook, Twitter, BlogSpot and others
- Twitter variant as described on Trend Micro's website
- W32/Koobfa-Gen, which affects multiple social networks, as described on Sophos's website
- The Allure of Social Networking, describes Win32/Koobface affecting multiple social networks as described on CA's Security Advisor Research blog
- W32.Koobface.D Information From Symantec
- Intego Security Memo: Trojan Horse OSX/Koobface.A Affects Mac OS X Mac – Koobface Variant Spreads via Facebook, Twitter and More
- Web Gang Operating in the Open
- The Koobface malware gang - exposed! Indepth investigation by Jan Droemer and Dirk Kollberg, SophosLabs
- Facebook credits UAB with stopping international cyber criminals, donates $250,000 to school
- Protalinski, Emil (January 17, 2012). "Facebook exposes hackers behind Koobface worm". ZDNet. Retrieved January 20, 2012.
- Koobface - What is it Really? article at ThatsNonsense.com, Retrieved on 26th January 2011
- Koobface article at snopes.com website, Retrieved on 30 December 2010
- The Koobface malware gang - exposed!, research by Jan Droemer and Dirk Kollberg.
- The Real Face of KOOBFACE, analysis by Trend Micro.
- Researchers Take Down Koobface Servers, Slashdot article.