Categorised | Featured, Technology

Celebrity scandals reveal naked truth about Internet security

Love gossip about Paris Hilton and Brangelina? So do the online criminals who make money by infecting our computers with nasty trojans and spyware.

Millions of people around the world enjoy browsing celebrity news and pictures on the Web and the high level of traffic on many celebrity websites makes them attractive targets for online crime.

The global credibility of the big stars and the surrounding media hype also makes things easier for the criminals. We may be mindful of dubious messages and security scams involving online banking, but caution is easily forgotten when we switch to entertainment mode and get that uncontrollable urge to view latest movie clips or music videos.

After hacking a particular celebrity website, the criminals use social engineering tricks like pop-up messages and inviting links to fake web sites which lead unsuspecting fans to allow their computers to be infected. A typical ploy consists of a pop-up message asking you to download a new version of Flash player (or other program), in order to view the content on a celebrity web site. When you click on “install’, the computer is quietly infected with a trojan that steals your banking passwords.

Beware celebrity sirens

This is exactly what happened to visitors to Paris Hilton’s compromised website earlier this year. They were instructed to install bogus “updated” software that instantly infected their computers. Similarly, the huge interest in Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration prompted criminals to launch a wave of fake websites and spam messages designed to infect computers worldwide.

Another common type of attack comes up with an alarming message on the screen that claims your computer is chock-a-block with viruses, which can only be removed by purchasing security software from the criminals. The software is fake and useless, of course. Infected websites can also install DNS changers that modify your search results and promote adverts that bring in cash for the criminals.

No website is safe

Celebrity websites are not the only ones being targeted. Hacking trustworthy sites and reputable companies can yield many new victims to the online criminals. Recent examples include rogue antivirus messages on the Sony Playstation website and bogus messages from “friends” on the Twitter.com social networking site.

There really is no such thing as a trusted site that is permanently safe. Just because you have visited the same website for years without any security problems does not guarantee that it will not be infected tomorrow.

The only way to stay protected online is to keep all your programs, browsers and add-ons updated and patched, and to use effective security software. If you must update an application to take advantage of a new feature, it’s always advisable to go directly to the vendor’s website for the installation.

Top tips for a healthy and secure PC
• Keep all your programs updated.
• Keep your anti-virus updated.
• Don’t open suspicious emails and attachments.
• Watch out for phishing attempts that try to get your personal details.
• Do a free Health Check at www.f-secure.com/healthcheck/

Protecting the irreplaceable

While you concentrate on what is important to you, make sure you’ve got a great system protecting your family, computers and smartphones. Remember that many of these systems also provide up backup functionality, so should the you lose those family photos, work spreadsheets or school assignments you can trust that a smart system has got you covered.

F-Secure’s products and services, trusted in millions of homes and businesses worldwide, are available through Optus and F-Secure’s eStore.

Guest contribution by Indi Siriniwasa, F-Secure Australia and New Zealand

The latest news on real-time virus threat scenarios is available at the F-Secure Data Security Lab weblog at http://www.f-secure.com/weblog/ for more information about F-secure check out www.f-secure.com.au.

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One Response to “Celebrity scandals reveal naked truth about Internet security”

  1. famous dead celebrities women says:

    It sounds like you’re creating problems yourself by trying to solve this issue instead of looking at why their is a problem in the first place

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