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May 5th, 2011

Virus Lab: Osama Bin Laden is hot, Gagarin is cold

Gagarin is so yesterday

Osama Bin Laden is the face of malware for the first week of May, replacing Soviet cosomonaut Yuri Gagarin.

Within hours of his death, a reputed picture of a bloody Bin Laden was making the rounds on the Internet. On close inspection, this picture appeared to be a heavily-altered version of much older photo. Regardless of whether this specific picture was accurate or not – it was still enough to make Bin Laden a momentary hit on the internet with cybercriminals. Here are four reasons why:

-        High number of searches- The large number of internet searches is an irresistible target for cybercriminals. Especially because the process of infecting sites and web searches is automatic and driven by the searches of normal users- like you.

-        Limited (no) official sources for information – The lack of an official picture means people are clicking anywhere for data, even on those unusual sites that they would never normally visit.

-        Old strategies still apply – the avast! Virus Lab has found “Bin Laden” emails, directing people to suspicious locations. This is an older strategy, but is still in the cybercriminals bag of tricks.

-        Police tactics – Google quickly removed links to the Bin Laden picture. This was an unusually fast response from Google that could have reduced his potential value to cybercriminals. But, maybe it increased the value of undetected Bin Laden pictures. Whatever the results, Google was fast.

But, you might be wondering what Gagarin has to do with Bin Laden: More than you might think. During the recent 50 year anniversary of the Soviet cosmonaut’s flight into space, the avast! Virus Lab found that cybercriminals had used SEO tactics to direct people looking for his picture to fake antivirus malware. With Bin Laden, the same automatic infection tactics will be used. Beware and be protected.

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