Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Malware goes viral via search engines

We all had a chuckle in the newsroom over the Serena Williams poisoned search attack that didn’t work. Unsuspecting users searching for news or videos of the Serena Williams meltdown were, in some cases, directed to a malware site that infected users’ computers. But when the site was investigated by Symantec, the malicious file was found to be corrupt and did not run. A lucky break for those who went to the site, but as our security ace Bill Jackson put it, “you can’t always count on incompetent hackers to protect your computer.”

But apparently, you can pretty much count on unsuspecting users to damage a computer. Here are some news reports on recent attacks that relied on social engineering to trick users into trouble. (Not to worry: we’re sending you to the news reports, not the malicious links.) picked up word that the recently deceased actor Patrick Swayze (star of Dirty Dancing) may also be suspect of poisoned search attacks.

And right on the heels came a similar attack on people searching for information on the California wildfires and the September 11 anniversary.

It’s not just fringe sites that are hosts to viruses. Recently NYTimes readers got ambushed by fake ads for antivirus software.

Meanwhile, on Facebook, users were alerted to the need for a “removal kit” to clean up an embedded virus on a Facebook application. Turns out the removal kit is the malfarious culprit, according to Computerworld.

Makes you wonder what it takes to get a geek to bite on a viral hook. Any other lines floating around out there?


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