Feeds

Swayze death exploited to serve up fake anti-virus

I've had the crime of my life

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Miscreants have moved swiftly to establish malicious websites designed to rip off users searching for more information on the death of actor Patrick Swayze on Monday.

Black-hat search engine manipulation means that many sites that appear prominently in search engine results point to sites slinging fake anti-virus scanners. Surfers visiting these sites are warned of non-existent security problems in a bid to trick them into buying software of little or no utility. A video (below) from Sophos explains the particulars of the Swayze-themed attack.

Other trending topics including Serena Williams's US Open tennis semi-final outburst video (as explained here) and the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks have also been exploited as themes for scareware traps over recent days.

The mechanism of such attacks in general is growing in sophistication, as well as frequency. In many cases, sites already listed in Google's index for a search term of interest are hacked by the bad guys, with the intention of planting malicious scripts that redirect users onto the scareware payload sites.

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, explained: "Sometimes the scareware guys create brand new webpages (new domains) and stuff them with keywords and the like to try and get them high on Google's search results."

"However, the sheer fact that they are newly registered domains makes them more suspicious than domains that have been around for some time, and so this can work against them."

"So, they're breaking into existing sites, creating webpages that are stuffed with relevant keywords in the hope that they will both get higher in search results *and* benefit from the fact that the domain has existed for some time," he added.

Malicious scripts on compromised sites are programmed to avoid forwarding unwitting surfers to the scareware download site unless Google is the referrer. The tactic is designed to help scams to say undetected for longer.

"The fact that the pages do nothing suspicious unless you visit them *via* Google (the referrer thing) is part of their cover," Cluley explained. "They're hoping that inquisitive sysadmins won't realise what's going on - if they do load up the page (without going through Google) they won't see anything suspicious." ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
'Kim Kardashian snaps naked selfies with a BLACKBERRY'. *Twitterati gasps*
More alleged private, nude celeb pics appear online
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
UK.gov lobs another fistful of change at SME infosec nightmares
Senior Lib Dem in 'trying to be relevant' shocker. It's only taxpayers' money, after all
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
Snowden, Dotcom, throw bombs into NZ election campaign
Claim of tapped undersea cable refuted by Kiwi PM as Kim claims extradition plot
Freenode IRC users told to change passwords after securo-breach
Miscreants probably got in, you guys know the drill by now
THREE QUARTERS of Android mobes open to web page spy bug
Metasploit module gobbles KitKat SOP slop
BitTorrent's peer-to-peer chat app Bleep goes live as public alpha
A good day for privacy as invisble.im also reveals its approach to untraceable chats
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.