Osama-Related Malware: It’s Gone Viral

Reactions to Osama bin Laden’s death varied throughout the world, from a feeling of relief to anger to fear. While this is understandable, the al Qaeda leader’s death has also brought with it new cyber attacks. These are not ideological in nature; they are simply garden-variety pests that seek to capitalise on the world’s interest in this story. Trending topics are always vulnerable to blackhat SEO tricks, but this story in particular has brought more scammers out of the woodwork.

What is the scam? A virus is spreading on Facebook, asking users to click on a video entitled “banned video footage of Osama Bin Laden being killed.” Since the announcement from the White House that the US would not be releasing death photos, people assume this is a pirated video. The curious click through, but they are presented with a survey. They are told they must complete it before they can go on to view the video.

First, there is no video. Second, the developers of the virus earn revenue each time the survey is filled out. Security experts expected that bin Laden’s death would be excellent fodder for hackers, and in fact, a security team an Imperva found hackers discussing how to make money off the story in forums.

Besides the false video, you may see a Facebook page named Osama bin Laden Dead, or something to that effect. One of the hackers on a blackhat SEO forum wrote, “Watch it go viral. You’ll probably get 90 percent of US Facebook users.” Another suggested that they capitalise on this opportunity while the story is “hot.” He had stated a Facebook page and had “600 likes in 2 minutes.”

Any trending topic is vulnerable to hackers; we saw an uptick in the amount of malware, for instance, around stories of the royal wedding. As always, caution is essential when you are clicking through to news stories. Stick to reputable sites for your top news – and don’t join Facebook pages of dubious origin.

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