Middle East Conflict Spills Over To Net

McAfee Labs reports an increase in criminal activity using popular Twitter tags, or current events, to disguise malware and malicious websites.

McAfee Labs reports an increase in criminal activity using popular Twitter tags, or current events, to disguise malware and malicious websites.

As tensions over the Gaza flotilla raid continue, cybercriminals have been posting shortened URL links, tagging them with headlines such as “Game of the Arabs and Israel.” Anyone searching Twitter for news on the topic could come across the dangerous links and be easily fooled.

The concept of hiding malware in shortened URLs isn’t new. Cyberscammers set-up fake Twitter profiles, and use Twitter-trending topics and Twitscoop to create malicious links about popular keywords and topics that take advantage of news junkies and people curious about international events. The scam this week has been about Gaza, but it evolves as quickly as Twitter topics change.

Scammers create believable and popular tweets to hide their malware and malicious website links by using shortened URL (website address) services such as bit.ly and TinyURL to mask the real web address.

This is because:
a) Malware usually ends with “.exe”, indicating that it an executable file that will install on your machine.

b) Malicious web addresses often disclose their content, which could offer a fake anti-virus software download.

Once a user clicks on a malicious link they could wind up installing password-stealing Trojans on their machine, spyware, and other dangerous software. They could also be led to a fake website that contains malware, or asks for personal information and possibly money.

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