Thursday, July 2, 2009

Michael Jackson spam virus in concerts a round a world

Michael Jackson spam virus screenshot. Credit: UAB.

A Cyber criminals who are exploiting public interest in his death with spam messages that infect computers with a virus able to steal bank account numbers and passwords, according to Gary Warner, University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) director of research in computer forensics. Warner and the other researchers at the UAB Spam Data Mine began tracking the celebrity-focused spam early on Tuesday, June 30.

This virus been tracking the cyber criminals behind this spam and the associated virus for many weeks, but it is just today that they have shifted their strategy by embedding their virus into an e-mail that claims to link you to a Web site that will reveal Michael Jackson’s killer.

The spam related to this virus has taken many forms, including e-cards, shipment tracking links and, most recently, a fake update to Microsoft Outlook, but with the high interest in Michael Jackson’s death the cyber criminals decided to change their delivery method to capitalize on that

Google also, has confirmed that the surge of Michael Jackson-related searches on Google News Thursday was first interpreted as an attack on its service.

Google News was inaccessible for some people Thursday afternoon right as rumors of Jackson's death began to circulate, replaced by an error message reading "We're sorry, but your query looks similar to automated requests from a computer virus or spyware application. To protect our users, we can't process your request right now."

Of course, those queries were quite legitimate, as millions around the world searched for accurate information regarding Jackson following reports that he had suffered cardiac arrest. The spike in queries began at about 2:45 p.m. PDT Thursday, and Google thought the traffic was an attack for about 25 minutes before realizing what was going on.

Google also noted that it saw a huge spike in mobile searches. Yahoo's data backed up Google's; it set a record for unique visitors in a single day with 16.4 million visitors, and its lead story on Jackson's death was the most highly-visited story in its history.

A mass-mailing worm is using Jackson's death as bait, computer security company Symantec has discovered.

The worm sends out spam emails with the subject "Remembering Michael Jackson" and an attachment named "Michael songs and"

The .zip file contains another file called "MichaelJacksonsongsandpictures.doc.exe" which is a copy of the worm.

When opened, the worm automatically downloads onto the user's machine, then spreads through its email program and also onto removable drives such as USB sticks.

For people looking for news, videos, pictures or any information regarding Michael Jackson and his life, Symantec recommends that they only visit sites they are familiar with and trust," Symantec Australia and New Zealand managing director Craig Scroggie said.

"Also, don't click on every link related to this story and make sure that your security solutions are up-to-date........


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