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Security Insights

Heartless Hackers Exploit Death Of Dirty Dancing Star

Scareware attacks, in which hackers try to frighten innocent users into believing that their computers areinfected with viruses, are on the rise, and the cybercriminals behind them are exploiting hot news stories like never before.
Scareware attacks, in which hackers try to frighten innocent users into believing that their computers areinfected with viruses, are on the rise, and the cybercriminals behind them are exploiting hot news stories like never before.In the past few days, security researchers have identified campaigns revolving around a number of different topics -- including Serena Williams' outburst at the U.S. Open, and the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks -- in an attempt to lure unwary surfers into visiting a malicious Web page.

In the latest attack, hackers have created Web pages carrying content regarding yesterday's death of Hollywood actor Patrick Swayze, in the hope that fans will click on dangerous links and be fooled by bogus security warnings.

As the video below demonstrates, just hours after the announcement of Swayze's sad death the criminals began using optimization techniques to boost the poisoned pages high in search engine rankings.

In this example, Sophos detects the malware as Troj/FakeAl-L.

Increasingly we are seeing that one of the methods being used by hackers who plant scareware is to break into existing Websites, creating Web pages that are stuffed with relevant keywords in the hope they will end up higher in search results rather than creating brand new sites.

The worry is, how many computer users will believe the fake antivirus warnings, put themselves at risk of infection, and be defrauded out of their hard-earned cash?

If you're running a business, then you need to have in place protection that automatically scans the Websites in the background as your staff visit them.

You simply cannot trust that the search results they click on any single day will not lead them to malicious pages deliberately planted by a cybercriminal.

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.