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Hackers Exploit Brittany Murphy’s Death To Distribute Scareware

The news of Brittany Murphy' death is exploited by cyber criminals to spread fake antivirus software popularly called 'scareware.'

On December 20, 2009, the American actress suffered a heart attack at 0800 Pacific Time (1600GMT). Within few hours of death, F-Secure researchers in Finland said that cyber criminals were 'poisoning' search engines results to target people looking for information about the actress death. The search results produced pages that specially contained scareware.

Notably, in addition to F-Secure, Websense and McAfee, the other security companies, have also reported similar scams.

In these scareware scams if a person hits the link of poisoned search result, his screen displays warning messages of an apparent malware infection. Subsequently, the messages say that the malware could be removed from the computer if the user bought antivirus software. But the software is actually a fake, which does nothing effective.

The security researchers state that a few search terms, which are providing extremely dubious results include - "Brittany Murphy dead," "Brittany Murphy dies," and "Brittany Murphy death hoax."

They also state that the greater part of 2009 has witnessed clever techniques of cyber criminals who exploited natural disasters and celebrity deaths as effective baits. The trick they applied was common but garnered huge benefits. The attackers hoped to exploit curious news that appeared in a prominent media sources.

Currently, both the search terms "Murphy" and "Brittany" as well as terms on related events are producing results near the top hits on Tweetcloud and Google. This implies that the criminals would be utilizing these terms as baits since Web-surfers are already seeking to get details on the topic.

In other similar scams, cyber criminals have exploited news about Michael Jackson's and Patrick Swayze's death. According to Dave Marcus, Researcher and Communications Manager at McAfee Avert Labs, it is very unfortunate that scammers and malware creators are using these incidences as baits for the distribution of their malicious website links and software, as reported by SCMagazine on December 21, 2009.

The security researchers advise computer users to ensure that they know about the trend as well as remain secure.

Related article: Hackers Redirect Windows Live Search to Malicious Sites

» SPAMfighter News - 12/31/2009

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