Malicious websites cash in on Bhutto`s assassination

Malicious websites cash in on Bhutto`s assassination
Rajesh S Kurup & Shivani Shinde / Mumbai December 29, 2007

If you search for Benazir Bhutto on the net, chances are that you would reach a malicious website that will steal your money and personal details stored on the computer and may even crash the system. All this if you do not have a genuine anti-virus installed on the PC.

Websense Security Labs, a global anti-virus vendor, discovered malicious websites attempting to capitalise on the news of Bhutto’s assassination.

When a user searches for information, these websites send Trojans (viruses that lie low and steal personal information) to the users’ computers.

According to Websense Regional Director (SAARC & India) Surendra Singh, once installed, these Trojans steal banking account details, passwords and other sensitive information stored on the computer.

These are mailed back to the individual who set up the site, who would then use the data to steal money and other information.

Websense has found around 15-20 such sites and is in the process of verifying the same.

IT experts claim that very third link that comes up on Google search is that of a malicious website. One such site is http://www.storyofpakistan.com and another is http:/15.3322.org/e. A plethora of such sites exist in the cyber world.

This is not the first time hackers are using popular events to attack systems. The infamous headbutt of French football captain Zinedine Zidane during the Fifa World Cup, the California Wildfire, the US elections and Hurricane Katrina that devastated New Orleans were also used as themes by hackers. Spam and viruses were also mailed across the world with ‘Zidane Headbutt’ and ‘Katrina’ in the subject line.

Nitin Jyoti, virus research manager, McAfee Avert Labs, said, “For people with malicious intent, the only way to target users is through social engineering. Such incidents or any event, which has the capacity to generate curiosity, will be used to target novices.”

A few search results point to some public domain blogs. The scripts on these blogs are infected with virus. When an unsuspecting user visits the compromised page, which contains an obfuscated variant called an MS 06-01(exploit name), three different types of malware (malicious software) is downloaded on the computer.

The firm has also found that these Trojans modify the Internet Explorer and search page, in addition to monitoring internet usage.

Is there a way to prevent this? According to an IT analyst, installing a proper anti-virus solution is the only way out. Even then, the cover is limited as the moment a patch is released (software to block the virus), the damage would already have been done.

The Indian information security market posted revenues of around Rs 956 crore in financial year 2007, a 30.4 per cent increase from Rs 733 crore, recorded last year.

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