On the heels of Osama bin Laden's death after a firefight with United States Navy Seal forces in Pakistan, scammers wasted no time in pushing out rogue AV, fake codecs and Facebook scams.
Cyber-criminals have seized on the killing of Osama bin
Laden as a fresh opportunity to push out rogue antivirus products, fake video
codecs and Facebook scams using poisoned search links.
President Barack Obama announced the success of a Navy Seals
operation that killed Osama Bin Laden in a $1 million mansion hideout located
60 miles north of Islamabad, Pakistan, on May 1. Less than 12 hours later,
cyber-criminals launched multiple scams designed to take advantage of people
flocking to the Web to get the latest information.
For the moment, the malicious sites are pushing fake
antivirus such as "Best Antivirus 2011" or fake codecs that open backdoors onto
infected computers. Attackers are using not just black hat search engine
optimization techniques to boost searches on the main search indexes; they are
poisoning links on image search results as well.
As no images or video of the operation have been released, any
sites promoting them are automatically suspicious.
"The bad guys were quite fast and started to poison search
results in Google Images," Fabio Assolini, a Kaspersky Lab expert, wrote on the
encountered fake news sites with the story of the operation and
a Flash Player window promising a video, only if the user would first update
the "VLC plugin." Instead of downloading the plugin for a popular media player,
the site attempts to download XvidSetup.exe, according to Michael Sutton,
vice-president of Security Research at Zscaler.
At this time, Google's new search algorithms appear to be
holding back the massive flood of malicious links from dominating the front
page of the Web search results. It's only a matter of time, however, as
attackers are also targeting secondary keywords. As those keywords get firmly
established, attackers will use those keywords to boost the result related to
the main search.
Some of the secondary keywords being targeted include
"Islamabad," "Al Qaeda," "Navy Seals" and "Obama Address." The main searches
being poisoned include "Osama Bin Laden dead," "Osama Bin Laden dead 2011" and
"Osama Bin Laden dead or alive." Attackers are expected to target more keywords
as more details emerge over the next few days.
Criminals used both tactics to promote their malware-laden
pages in the days leading up to and shortly after Britain's Prince William's engagement
to Catherine Middleton and the royal wedding
on April 29.
The attacks aren't limited to just poisoning search results,
as security researchers have found several scams using Facebook ads. One scam
promises a limited time offer of a free Subway sandwich to "celebrate" Bin Laden's
death or two airplane tickets from Southwest Airlines, David Jacoby, a
Kaspersky Lab expert, wrote on SecureList
Clicking on the link prompts the user to post a message that gets posted on
their user Wall, allowing the scam to spread virally, before directing them to
Researchers stressed the importance of relying on recognized
news sites to get the latest information, such as Al-Jazeera, BBC, CNN and
other major US networks, including ABC, CBS and NBC. Users should not be
clicking on any links just because they saw it on Twitter or saw it in an
e-mail, Paul Ducklin, head of technology for the Asia-Pacific region at Sophos,
warned on the Naked
"Don't blindly trust links you see online, whether in
emails, on social networking sites, or from searches. If the URL and the subject
matter don't tie up in some obvious way, give it a miss," Ducklin said.
Some of the malicious codecs and fake antivrus are detected
by major security products, so users should ensure they are running
fully-updated antivirus products on their machines, according to Ducklin.
If by any chance, users end up on a site that acts
unexpectedly, asking users to fill out a form or to download a file, "then get
out of there at once," Ducklin said.