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 SecureList blog.
Zscaler's researchers 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.
For more, read the eWEEK article: Osama Bin Laden's Death a Party for Spammers, Fake AV Scammers.