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November 30, 2009

Hackers quick to exploit Tiger Woods crash

Security firms warn of spike in infected sites

By Steve Evans

Cyber criminals are already exploiting the car crash involving golf superstar Tiger Woods by directing news-hungry surfers to malware-infested websites.

Both Symantec and Sophos have warned users to be on their guard when searching for news relating to the crash, which happened in the early hours of Friday morning at his home near Orlando, Florida.

Sophos has claimed that by early Saturday morning hackers had created webpages claiming to contain video footage related to the incident. Users visiting the infected sites are likely to see their PCs infected by a Trojan horse, which enablers hackers to use the PC to spread spam.

“The Tiger Woods story has been one of the top news stories around the world this weekend, and search engine statistics show that many people have been hunting for developments via the web,” said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. “Hackers don’t waste any time jumping on the coat-tails of a hot news story like this, in their attempt to infect as many computer users as possible.”

The threat is not limited to home users, Cluley warned: “This is a threat both for home users and companies. Many people may return from the weekend and use their office PCs to find out the latest news this morning – only to have their computers silently infected.”

Symantec has also picked up on a number of infected websites that are appearing high up on search results related to the crash. A user visiting one of these infected sites will be prompted to scan their computer for viruses and tricked into buying fake antivirus software.

“From an IT security point of view, this unfortunate incident is just another fruit ripe for the picking as far as malware writers are concerned. It comes as no surprise that the creators of rogue antivirus or misleading application software have already jumped on the bandwagon and attempted to poison web search engine results to take advantage of this spike in web search activity,” said Hon Lau on the Symantec Response blog.

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