Cybercriminals spread Patrick Swayze-related spam with malicious links detected in Google search results

News by Dan Raywood

The death of actor Patrick Swayze has led to the detection of related spam that aims to catch out unsuspecting users.

The death of actor Patrick Swayze has led to the detection of related spam that aims to catch out unsuspecting users.

Following the death of the Dirty Dancing and Ghost star, many malicious sites and files have been detected as being active on the web.

McAfee's Sam Masiello claimed that with ‘another celebrity death' comes ‘another recycled scareware tactic attempting to lure users to download malware by telling them that their PC is infected with a virus'.

Masiello said: “Queries for information on the death of the popular actor may lead to news stories that look legitimate when returned in search results. This similar tactic of presenting a window to the user that looks very much like a legitimate Windows popup has been used many times before in various forms.

“Clearly scareware tactics are something that cybercriminals have latched onto as a popular method for malware distribution as it continues to be a recurring and evolving theme. Conficker/Downadup largely popularised scareware with its success (although it wasn't the first to use it) and now others are riding on that popularity to re-purpose it for their own scams.”

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, said: “Although the entertainment world mourns his loss, heartless hackers are taking advantage of the hot news story by creating malicious web pages that lead to fake anti-virus alerts.

“The tactic used by the cybercriminals on this occasion is the same as the one we saw after the death of Natasha Richardson and when they exploited interest amongst the public in the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack last week.

“Clearly the cybercriminals are no slackers when it comes to jumping on a trending internet topic, and are more professional than ever before in spreading their fake anti-virus scams. The question is - are you being equally expert in keeping your security up-to-date and your wits about you when you surf the net?”

F-Secure's Chu Kian further claimed that a malicious link is appearing on Google searches for Swayze's funeral. Kian said: “Folks may think that they need to click on the ‘video' to enable video streaming. Actually, it's an image and clicking on it takes the user to another website that promises another video, and clicking on this video ends up with the victim unintentionally downloading a rogue anti-virus.

“Incidentally, on the first website the bottom video is an actual YouTube video that's completely unrelated to the funeral and is not linked to malware.”


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