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One Step Ahead
December 11, 2007, Volume 54, No. 15

One Step Ahead

Another tip in a series provided by the Offices of Information Systems & Computing and Audit, Compliance & Privacy.

Facebook, MySpace and YouTube Raise New Computer Security Risks

Be wary of sites like MySpace, Facebook and YouTube where practically anyone can provide content. These sites are designed to allow you and your friends, or even strangers, to post text, images, movies and, in some cases, programs. Bad guys have found ways to circumvent security controls and plant malicious software on such sites. In November, 2007, hackers infected Alicia Keys’ MySpace page. Many people who visited the site had their computers infected with software that stole credit card numbers.

There are two primary risks with sites where users provide the content. If you use an older web browser or media player that lacks the latest security patches, simply viewing a hacked site can infect your computer. If this attack fails, the attacker entices you into clicking on a link and installing a malicious program on your computer. Intruders make this seem plausible by implying that you need the program to get the desired content.  

If you must use such sites, be certain that your computer, web browser and media players (Quicktime, RealPlayer, Windows Media Player, Flash, Flip4Mac) have all of the current patches. Recommended versions of web browsers and media players are available at: www.upenn.edu/computing/product/. If you are prompted at a website to install a media player, never install it by following links from the website. Either go to the Penn site above or ask your Local Support Provider for help. Any prompts encountered on Facebook or the like to install programs or codecs (digital media encoders) should be declined.

To receive weekly OneStepAhead  tips via email, send email to listserv@lists.upenn.edu with the following text in the body of the message:  sub one-step-ahead <your name>.

For additional tips, see the One Step Ahead link on the Information Security website: www.upenn.edu/computing/security/.

Almanac - December 11, 2007, Volume 54, No. 15