In this instance, Lost Boys actor Corey Haim sadly passed away on Wednesday after a struggle with substance abuse. Now I am well aware that this is SC Magazine, and not Heat, and you are expecting more than a diatribe on celebrity news and culture, but it comes as little surprise that within hours of the coroner's office confirmation of Haim's passing that there was malware and malicious links relating to him.
Quite what the malware proposes to do is varied. Detection from Websense found ‘search terms related to Corey Haim have become the latest target for Blackhat SEO poisoning attacks' as they lead to rogue anti-virus. Google trends marked a huge spike in searches for Haim, closely followed by searches for his Lost Boys and License to Drive co-star Corey Feldman.
Websense said: “Cyber criminals again jump at a chance to spread their rogue anti-virus. When users enter keywords such as ‘Corey Haim death' in Google, some of the results will lead them to download fake security software. The downloading FakeAV file has only 17 per cent coverage from anti-virus products.”
Also on the detection trail was Chris Boyd, malware researcher at Sunbelt Software, who concurred that ‘celebrity death equals internet scams by the boatload'.
He pointed out various video sites that were proposing to show videos of Haim, from his last red carpet appearance to ‘watch Corey Haim dead at 38'. Boyd said that by visiting mycelebzone(dot)com will pop open a Hotbar prompt, which you need to install to ‘see the content'.
Boyd said: “Instead of ghoulish pictures of a deceased celebrity, the end-user will find himself looking at a ghoulish spamblog linking to fake links of ripped movies. “Oh, they'll have Hotbar, ShopperReports and BarDiscover onboard too. What a value add!
“Elsewhere, sites claiming to have horrible images, such as celebrity-autopsies(dot)com will drop you onto surveys and quizzes to be filled in, courtesy of a dancing Michael Jackson.”
He recommended avoiding links ‘floating around on video sharing sites' like the plague, as apart from the malicious threat, ‘there probably isn't much on them that would be of use to you, unless you enjoy the sensation of gaining nothing while lining the pockets of spamblog merchants'.
As we have covered before, SEO poisoning is a dangerous thing - it can catch out regular users and those seeking a sensational video. While the loss of Haim is such a sad event considering his young age, it is hard to see how times will change when the next news breaks.