Monday, July 19, 2010
Okay, here’s the scoop on whether YouTube is safe. We all love to watch them and post them on Facebook, Twitter, or other social networks. The videos on YouTube are streamed to your computer using a program called Flash, a viewing software developed by Macromedia that has been bought by Adobe. To be able to play flash-modules you need a Flash Player, that is installed as a Plug-in, into your web browser (Internet Explorer, AOL, FireFox, etc). In general, these video cannot actually read or write anything on your computer. They are actually kind of like a printed out picture that you look at. The video plays but it cannot affect your computer in any way.
Where the danger comes in is loading the Flash Player. Like all software the Flash Player can contain bugs. A hacker will use these bugs to load a virus, spyware or malware on your computer. Your computer should already have flash on it so it doesn’t need to be reloaded. If ever in doubt about it, go to www.adobe.com and click on the “FLASH” download. That is the only safe way to load flash. If you are asked to click on something to load flash on your computer so you can view the video, be aware. They can seem perfectly innocent. They show up in your email from attachments, on internet Web sites, on your Facebook, MySpace or other social networking, or in ads and popups. Depending on the severity of the bug many things can happen. Starting from simply annoying things like the popup of an advertisement even with a popup-blocker being active to more dangerous things like installing viruses, spyware, or malware.
If a hacker uses a bug, then it is possible to read and write on the harddrive, or executing programs on the system (outside the browser) without you ever knowing about it. These things would allow the installation of trojan horses, viruses or other things.
If you want to be on the absolute safe side, you should ONLY open YouTube videos from the YouTube site. You can simply take the title of the video from the link (do not paste and copy) and search You Tube to find the video that was sent to you. They do not have a guarantee that every video is safe but they say they check out every video for viewing. These issues can also happen with Java. Java is another program that plays videos, cartoon ads, or games.
In general, do not click on or roll over ANY popup. If Flash, Java, or even your anti-virus pops up, ignore it, close the pop-up from the bottom task-bar (or the task manager), and either open your anti-virus directly to see what it needs you to do (if anything), or go directly to www.adobe.com, or www.java.com and upload the update there. This is truly the only safe way to be sure. ALWAYS keep in mind that hackers are out there, and the only way they can get you is for you to click.