Sunday, March 7, 2010

Killer Whale Video Spreading Viruses

Hackers Exploiting Interest In Death Of Sea World Trainer

The IT and security firm Sophos is warning computer uses to beware of messages and Web sites that claim to show video or pictures of the death of killer whale trainer Dawn Brancheau.

Hackers have created Web pages stuffed with content that appears to be video footage of the trainer's death, but the sites are actually designed to infect computers.

Brancheau was killed when the 12,000-pound killer whale named Tilikum dragged her into its pool and thrashed the woman to death as audience members watched in horror.

"It's hard to believe that anyone would want to watch video footage of this horrible death, but it's currently one of the very hottest search terms on the Internet," said Sophos Senior Technology Consultant Graham Cluley in a news release.

"These poisoned pages can appear on the very first page of your search engine's results, and if you visit the links you may see pop-up warnings telling you about security issues with your computer. These warnings are fake and designed to trick you into downloading dangerous software or handing over your credit card details," Cluley said.

Scareware and fake anti-virus attacks like this have become an increasingly common weapon. They have been seen following the deaths of several high-profile individuals including Patrick Swayze and Natasha Richardson.

"You could argue that anyone hunting for footage of this horrific accident deserves everything that's coming to them, but the real sick ones here are the hackers who are trying to profit from the death of an innocent woman in a tragic accident," Cluley said.

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