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Guest Blog // Selected Security Content Provided By Sophos
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10/21/2009
06:00 AM
Graham Cluley
Graham Cluley
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Kanye West Car Crash Hoax Fuels Hacker Scareware Attack

An Internet rumor that controversial rapper Kanye West has died in a Los Angeles car crash is being taken advantage of by cybercriminals, bent on stealing money through fake antivirus alerts.

An Internet rumor that controversial rapper Kanye West has died in a Los Angeles car crash is being taken advantage of by cybercriminals, bent on stealing money through fake antivirus alerts.The bogus story, which has been repeated across the Internet and is the subject of many postings on social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, says that there was a:

"bizarre car crash in Los Angeles involving two luxury cars early this morning rapper Kanye West dead, a second injured, a third arrested for gross vehicular manslaughter and a fourth person was detained by police."

(You can read the full hoax in my blog entry on the Sophos Website).

In truth, the rumor appears to have started as a prank on the 4Chan Website.

However, the story's dubious provenance hasn't prevented others from repeating it, and -- sadly -- hackers from taking advantage of what is currently one of the most commonly searched-for topics on the Internet.

Kanye West Died search trend stats

Using the familiar trick of poisoning search results through SEO techniques, hackers are directing users to malicious Web pages designed to display fake antivirus warnings and scare users into making unwise purchases.

Poisoned webpage rides high in search rankings

Scareware, rogueware, fake antivirus -- call it what you like. It's one of the biggest growth areas in cybercrime right now. The bad guys are taking advantage of users' fear of computer infection and identity theft, hacking Web sites to display bogus warnings that are designed to fool you and your colleagues into making bad decisions that could impact your company's data and your own wallet.

By the way, this isn't the first time Kanye West has caught the attention of cybercriminals. For instance, earlier this year it came to light that his Gmail, MySpace, and Twitter accounts had been broken into.

Graham Cluley is senior technology consultant at Sophos, and has been working in the computer security field since the early 1990s. When he's not updating his other blog on the Sophos website, you can find him on Twitter at @gcluley. Special to Dark Reading.

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