Beware of Infections from Popular Searches – Especially about Death of Osama bin Laden
No doubt, many have already heard about the death of Osama bin Laden on 01May2011 in Pakistan by U.S. Forces. Anyway, it is a well known fact that the perpetrators of viruses and spyware use stories, pictures, videos and email about sensational events to spread infections. There will obviously be many people searching the internet for the latest news, conspiracy theories, pictures and videos about anything to do with Osama bin Laden’s death. All I can say is to use caution when clicking on links in emails or search results having to do with the death of Osama bin Laden.
There have already been osama bin laden viruses and hoaxes launched in the past that claimed he was captured or hanged. Some of these might be brought back into circulation as well as the launch of new, more potent variants. Hopefully, you will heed my spyware prevention tips to keep safe.
Your safest bet would be to use well established websites you already trust to view this information; otherwise, I urge you to keep your shields up, be skeptical about clicking on links in overly sensationalized stories, and do your home work, otherwise he will get his revenge post-mortem by infecting your computer. Also beware of emails circulating about his death as well.
I used to not worry too much about downloading or viewing .pdf document files and .jpg picture files online, but nowadays everything is game. If you click on a link for a document, picture or video of this news and it prompts you to download some plugin such a Flash Player, Java or whatever to be able to view it, be careful. I suggest you install any required plugins by going directly to the vendor’s website. I listed a few of the more popular plugins below, but I purposely did not make the links clickable so you can do it yourself with full confidence and control. Having the plugins below will allow you to play most media content on the internet.
- Flash Player: www.adobe.com
- Java: www.java.com
- Silverlight: www.microsoft.com/getsilverlight
ESET Malware Report
Now I recommend you listen to an ESET Malware Report podcast about how fake Osama Bin Laden pictures and videos on Facebook and the internet hide malware.
You can also be sure that this news will be flying back-and-forth in Social Media, so if you are a Facebook, Twitter, MySpace or whatever user, be careful because there are already reports of fake and mock accounts which are attracting lots of followers. But if you have a friend (or a stranger) who sends you a link, you should be able to see the real URL displayed in the lower-left corner of your internet browser when you mouse-over the link (this just means moving the mouse OVER the link, NOT clicking it).
It is possible to safely click on a malicious link if you “Right-Click” the link (Alt-Click if left handed). You can then check your Context Menu for available options for getting more information about the link, just DO NOT select “Open”.
If the domain is something you might be suspicious of, use a Link Scanner while Googling it to see if it is reported as safe or not. I use McAfee’s SiteAdvisor which gives you a red-yellow-green light approach about the safety of each website listed in your search results.
Anyway, this is big news and there will be more to follow for some time, so be careful about your internet activity as always, and even more so with this news.