July 16, 2009

From Short to Long URL: Save yourself from Koobface

This is a dirty world again. Koobface that was troubling users sending spam using member profiles on Facebook and Myspace is attacking Twitter now. Twitter is now suspending accounts that are under attack in an attempt to save the community from the unwanted guest.

Wikipedia tells us: "Koobface is an anagram of Facebook." It is the word 'book' spelt the other way around - 'koob'. Koobface attacks an account by sending unsolicited links. In case of Twitter, Koobface sends you a link with messages like 'My home video.' Once you click on the link it takes you to a site that spreads malware. It may tell you that you need to install or update your current flash plugin. Once you try to update your flash plugin, the site will push .exe files to your system. The first thing the Koobface Execution file may do in your computer is to find cookies from Social Community Networks and affect them. The Koobface Malware may also act as a Spyware and send personal information from your system like passwords and credit card numbers to the person behind the malware.

The best thing you can do against Koobface is not to click unsolicited links, even if it is from a person known to you. But this is not fare. We can't live this way, being scared of Koobfaces.

Most often short urls are the villains. One almost wishes if short urls were never invented. They never tell you where they will take you to and you will know only after you reach the place. Twitter uses short urls extensively. Now, how can we not see what our friends send us? Impossible. There is a way out.

For example:http://bit.ly/2VPO3s is a short url techedIN posted on Twitter. You do not know me and it is not fair on my part to expect you to click on that link and come to techedIN and read what I post. Again, it is not fair on your part not to read what I write. After all, I take so much of trouble to write these posts. Now, what do we do to trust each other? All that you need to do is to go to LongURL.org

Step 1: Copy and paste the short url you want to verify in the box provided on the LongURL site and click on expand.

Step 2: Now what you see is an expansion of the short url you have tried. It gives you information like the title, the long url and additional information like content type. Sometimes it also gives you a snap shot of the site. One you are sure that you can trust the site or you know the site, you can click on the site peacefully.

It is not fair on anyone's part to send us one thing and tell us it is something else. Short URLs encourage that habit a lot. I appreciate the efforts of Sean Murphy, who pre-empted this menace and came up with a solution like LongURL.org

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