As Osama Bin Laden Goes Down Malware Goes Up

Of course the biggest news from the last couple of days is the fact that Osama Bin Laden has been killed in Pakistan. For years, Americans and other people around the world waited for the alleged mastermind of the World Trade Center bombing to be captured or killed. On May 1st 2011 they were finally able to get their wish.

While this still does not solve a lot of the problems in the world, and may lead to new ones, at least most people around the world were able to breathe a sigh of relief. Life has changed so much because of this one man and his organization. So it feels good to finally have closure on the issue.

But ever since the killing has been announced, there has been something strange going on around the internet. The amount of malware that is being sent out to the public has quadrupled. While there has always been an increase in malware when big new stories happen, this one has had a larger impact than most. I can only surmise that it is because of such a big news story. In this article, I will take a look at some of the malware that is being posted, where it is being posted and how you as the end user can avoid being trapped by it.

A significant difference is that this time it is not just a Windows user problem. When there are usually reports of new malware floating around it is usually only Windows users that suffers. That is not the case this time. There are reports floating around that there are Mac variants of the virus floating around the internet using the Bin Laden story as a cover as well.

be careful when searching for news about Osama Bin Laden's death

be careful when searching for news about Osama Bin Laden's death

What methods of attack have been used so far?

So far, there have been several different ways that the black hat hackers have tried to attack user’s computers in the past few days. The first method to come out was a news item that mentioned more information about the Bin Laden killing. The link told you that if you click on it you would be able to get more information that hasn’t been reported yet. This was early in the news cycle and people were just clicking on any link so that they could get more information. They did not realize that they were walking into a trap. While this type of attack was only able to work for a short amount of time, it is amazing that the bad guys were able to put it together so quickly.

After the fake news stories, the next thing that you started to see was a fake photograph pretending to be a dead Osama Bin Laden. It is amazing but this time a lot of people were fooled by the photo even several members of professional news organizations. If you are able to fool the so called professionals, what chance does the average person have? The photo turned out to be an old Photoshop job that had been already floating around the internet for years. This old photo was again used to draw people in and to click on whatever attack the bad guys had set up. This proved to be very effective but pretty soon people started to hear from others that the photo was fake and could possibly hurt their computer. So after that attack, then came the fake video.

Just as in the spirit of the fake photo, there was malware floating around the internet pretending to be a fake video of the raid. While this attack was not as enticing as the Bin Laden dead photo, it was still good enough to get a significant amount of hits. Each time one of these pieces of malware would be debunked, another one would show up in its place. And even the debunked photos and news stories would still work against people who hadn’t heard that they were fake but overall they were not as effective as they once were.

Where are the attacks most prevalent?

So far most of the people that have been infected by these attacks have been users of the social web site Facebook. Of course we all know that Facebook has been the choice for bad guys for a little while now. This attack was no different. While the Twitter social network had attacks as well, it was nothing like the attacks on the Facebook web site. I can only guess this is because Twitter users are reported to be more tech savvy than Facebook users. That means they are less likely to fall for this sort of attack.

If you want to prevent this type of attack from happening to you then make sure you are careful in which links that you click. Make sure you get your news from reputable news organizations and not just any link on the internet.

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.

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