Posted by Virus Bulletin on Jan 24, 2008
Actor's death exploited by malware writers to infect computers.
The death of actor Heath Ledger on Tuesday had barely been confirmed a few hours when malicious websites started using his name to boost their rankings in Google searches.
Web users who searched for 'heath' and 'ledger' in Google would have found these malicious sites high in the search results, thanks to the deployment of some search engine optimisation tricks. Anyone clicking through to the dodgy sites would immediately be redirected to a site supposedly requiring the installation of an ActiveX Object. Of course, users who allowed the installation to proceed simply ended up with various trojans and worms on their computer.
The malicious websites are hosted in the Czech Republic on a server that is believed to be hacked. It has become common practice of malware writers to use big news to poison Google results and attract visitors to spread their malware. Something similar was seen in December, when following the assassination of Pakistan politician Benazir Bhutto, many malicious sites appeared that used her name to gain high positions in Google searches.
The sorry tale confirms once again the depths to which today's malware writers will stoop to ensure a wide spread of their creations. Users are advised not only to ensure they keep their anti-malware products up to date, but also to exercise caution when allowing their browser to install applications and updates.