botnetA new worm targeting Windows systems is making its way across the Internet through Skype Instant Messaging, as reported by Mashable.  Unsuspecting users will see a shortened link with a message “LOL is this your new profile pic” or something to that effect.  Clicking the link downloads a zip file to your computer.  When the file is unzipped a trojan is copied to the hard drive opening a backdoor and loading malware known as Dorkbot.  Once the worm loads, your system is co-opted into a botnet — a group of computers infected with malicious code that put the computers under the command of remote operators without the users’ knowledge.  This worm also has the potential to lock you out of your own computer holding your files for ransom.  The Skype support community reports the malware takes advantage of Skype’s programming interface to automatically blast the malicious link to all of the compromised accounts’ contacts,  so the link may seem to come from a trusted source.

What can you do about it?  

  • Always click links with caution, particularly shortened links.  While shortened links are very handy for sharing cumbersome URLs, you can’t tell where they will take you.
  •  If you see a link pop up in an Instant Messaging window on Skype, Facebook or elsewhere, ask the person you are chatting with if they just sent you a link.
  • Don’t click on links sent to you from someone you just met online, no matter how enticing they are
  • Install a good virus checker on your system and keep it up-to-date