New Facebook virus could cost you money and friends

With more than 600,000 new users a day, Facebook has quickly become a target for all kinds of nasty Internet filth. The newest plague to hit the popular social networking is a virus that appears to come from a friend, urging you to check out, or Do not!

Software news site warns that these addresses will infect out of date and unprotected computers. Once infected the virus steals your Facebook account and sends a similar message to your friends.

If you get infected, not only do you run the risk of being on the hook for virus removal fees, which cost between $149 and $299 at Staples and Bestbuy, but you also have to face the friends you unwittingly infected by not taking care of your computer. Even though most users trust their friends on Facebook, some enough to send $1,200 to a hacked account, don't forget that when it comes to social networking the rule should always be, No Glove...No Love.

If you don't want to spread the digital STD around, here are four simple steps to take right now to stop this problem dead in its tracks.
  1. Update: If you're using Windows, click Start-> Programs-> Windows Update to make sure you have the latest patches. After installing the critical updates you'll be one step ahead of the virus writers who often exploit old security holes.
  2. Get a better browser: If you're still using Internet Explorer make sure you have the latest version, Internet Explorer 8, you can check your version by opening Internet Explorer then pressing Alt + H and then A. Personally I use Firefox, which is a great browser that is constantly updated. There is also Google Chrome, which provides another secure browsing system. Remember, when you get a prompt to update your browser; do it.
  3. Get anti virus protection: If you're running any version of Windows there's no excuse not to have an anti-virus program. You can purchase one for under $50 at your favorite technology store or download one of the many capable free programs. My personal favorite free anti-virus programs are Free AVG and Avira. For a full rundown of free anti-virus programs, check out this great summary on DownloadSquad.
  4. Practice safe clicking: Don't click on strange links. I know this can be hard with the many link shortening services out there that can make look like an obtuse but common sense should help. If there is no description or it doesn't make sense, forget about it, or Google the link before clicking, In the event that the link is a life-changing website you're sure to come across it later.
Viruses and malware prevail when users don't take proactive steps. If you keep your computer up to date you'll save plenty of money, time, frustration and these days, friends! If you find yourself on the receiving end of one of these emails, make sure you tell your friend so they can save their account.
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