Crooks Continue Social Media Assault

YouTube, Digg drive 400% adware spike

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There’s been a disturbing trend over the past few weeks showing that cyber-criminals are getting more adept at using popular social sites to ambush unsuspecting users. We’ve seen attacks targeted at Twitter, Facebook, Google’s Gmail, Gtalk, and even search. Today’s spotlight is on YouTube, a big part of the reason PandaLabs has seen a 400 percent spike in the infection rate of a specific kind of adware.

Crooks appear to be adopting the youngster’s mantra that email is for old people, and are targeting social networking sites where people gather en masse, and where the novelty and ease of communication makes them more trusting. 

It could be a mindset thing, a stage in Internet development. Collectively users trusted any old thing that galloped into their email inboxes at one time. A decade later most of us know better and spam filters are much more effective.

PandaLabs sounded the alarm a couple of weeks ago about comment spam popping up via hacked accounts on Digg. Following links that promised Christian Bale “freak out” hilarity and Jessica Simpson/Megan Fox sex tapes led users from the social news site straight to a codec download. The codec of course carried only VideoPlay, a form of adware.

To add insult to injury, the program offered a supposed security solution users could pay to download and get rid of the adware just placed on their systems.

The same technique is being used on YouTube. Complete with in-video prompt “CLICK HERE FORN PORN ==>,” the link leads from YouTube to the VideoPlay download prompt.

Apparently, this method is very successful, and as a result the VideoPlay infection rate jumped 400 percent between January and February of this year.

“This is another example of how cyber-crooks are using the most popular Web pages and social engineering to distribute malware massively,” said Luis Corrons, Technical Director of PandaLabs. “Users should remember that even though they may be visiting trusted websites, they should always be on their guard, and in particular, watch out for sensationalist headlines, as these are typically used to trick users and infect the computers.”

It’s really unfortunate that the same great tools and ideas that led to a social media/user generated content revolution are leading to easier access for crooks. In addition to solidifying meaningful monetization strategies, these sites also need to focus vigilantly on site security.  

Crooks Continue Social Media Assault
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