Troogle

Hackers poison PCs that Google “March Madness”

Posted in General, News, Technics by henrydewaag on March 18, 2009

Cybercriminals have begun poisoning Google search results to misdirect sports fans looking to participate in March Madness festivities, security firms say. Websense has found poisoned “search engine optimization” results mixed in with legit results for Google searches on “March Madness schedule,” “March Madness brackets,” and “2009 NCAA bracket predictions.”

This story explains how poisoned SEO results can re-direct your browser to a website serving up all sorts of malicious programs. SEO attacks have become very popular with cyber gangs who specialize in redirecting you to online pitches to buy worthless antispyware subsctiptions for $50. Most often the bad guys will also turn your PC into an obedient bot, and steal all of your sensitive data.

“Cybercriminals specifically take advantage of events like March Madness, because they know consumers are actively looking for brackets to download, the best teams to fill in and pools to participate in,” said Carol Carpenter, vice president of consumer marketing for Trend Micro. “These crooks are smart and know what people are searching for throughout the year. We advise all consumers that they should always keep their anti-virus software protection up-to-date to prevent all infections.”

Good advice. But keeping your antivirus subcription current won’t fully protect you. The bad guys have gotten very good at staying one-step ahead of the latest antivirus updates.

To truly stay safe while surfing the Internet you need to do your homework and be ready to give up convenience. There are numerous consumer tools designed to assess the goodness of the Web page you are about to click to, and tell you whether it’s safe. AVG, ScanSafe, McAfee and Enigma have consumer web scanning tools and services worth checking out.

And here’s a tip: WinPatrol offers very powerful protection. It’s a terrific free tool, popular with techies since it was created 10 years ago by Bill Pytlovany, one of the original designers of AOL and a longtime open-source practitioner. The premier version, called WinPatrol Plus, costs just $30 for a lifetime subscription, which includes all updates, and is designed for the average consumer. WinPatrol takes a snapshot of your Windows run registry, and from then on blocks and alerts you to any new executable program, such as a malicious backdoor, that tries to install itself on your hard drive.

By Byron Acohido

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