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As we get shocked after the national media reported that the 32-year-old actress had died of cardiac arrest, the criminals behind many Rogue anti-Virus campaigns targeted search results with Brittany Murphy’s name and related keywords to create fake news listings that do nothing but offer fake system infection warnings.
Murphy, who had established herself in Hollywood after roles in movies like 8 Mile, Clueless, Sin City, and Just Married, as well a voice role on King of the Hill, was discovered unconscious in the shower during the early morning hours on Sunday by her mother. Firefighters responded to a 911 call, and after attempting CPR took her to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she was declared dead shortly after 10 a.m.
Between the hours of 8 a.m. on December 20, until 10 p.m. PST on December 21, Google reported spikes for the search terms related to the actress. Over the last 24-hours, 14 of the top 30 searches were related to Murphy and the news of her untimely demise. Within those top searches, criminals wasted no time in spiking the results with malicious links.
Using comment spam from legitimate sites to boost their rankings, as well as comment spam and back links on forum posts and other tricks, criminals have been able to get their malicious domains pushed to the top for many of the common searches. According to Websense, “Brittany Murphy death” returned several malicious links within the top ten results.
Each of the domains in the malicious result listings claim to be news related, with all the latest updated information. Some of them are using known news sources in their descriptions to further muddle the results and confuse people as they look for more information.
The result of the malicious links is Rogue anti-Virus installations, which start in the form of warnings about PC infection. The best way to avoid these sites is to search legitimate news sources, and keeping news related searches to Google News, and if you are a fan of one site over another, such as TMZ.com, then go to that site directly by entering the URL manually in your address bar.
BlackHat SEO (Search Poisoning) took off this year, largely thanks to the hype over Michael Jackson’s death and other notable events. Recently, BlackHat SEO attacks have followed Tiger Woods’ problems, and before that, Google Wave related searches were targeted as well.
Experts from several security vendors have noted that in 2010 they expect to see a rise in these types of attacks.