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Osama lives! Well…in the form of online malware…

Even in death, the name of one of the world's most infamous terrorist still continues to haunt the world. This time, it appears that Osama bin Laden is back to wreck havoc on the lives of millions of people worldwide…by attempting to trick less tech-savvy Internet users into visiting websites designed to exploit security flaws in various online technologies, or even downloading malware packages disguised as 'must-have' information about the terrorist. And just when you thought you have seen the last of Osama bin Laden, too… 

So you rejoiced upon hearing the breaking news broadcast that the world's most wanted terrorist, Osama bin Laden, had finally met his maker after a joint US-Pakistani strike force laid waste to the compound he was taking refuge at. However, it may seem that the celebrations may have taken place a little soon, for Osama's shadow has remained behind to haunt millions of users from all over the world…in the form of malware that is rapidly being disseminated through the depths of cyberspace.

According to various security analysts, Osama's death has become a hot topic in online searches, a fact which has led many malware authors to take advantage of the resulting public curiosity in various ways. To date, at least three known methods of 'tricking' users into downloading malware disguised as media content of Osama's dead body have surfaced. The first method is by far the oldest but most popular method, and it involves sending malware packages through email for unsuspecting users to download and infect their PCs with. The second method is a little more social in nature, as it takes advantage of people's need to social network online by putting up links of malware-infested sites on the popular online social networking tool known as Facebook and 'inviting' readers to visit the links.

The third known method in the wild is a little more sophisticated but subtle; it involves compromising  reputable media sources and putting links to various exploit kits to redirect unsuspecting users into getting themselves infected. This method is by far the most insidious of the three, as most people wil not be expecting a malware infection from visiting an established source of information online.

And lest you start thinking along the lines of 'oh-i-don't-use-Windows-so-I'm-safe', we should probably point out that well-known anti-malware software vendor Kaspersky has revealed that some of the 'Osama malware' used to infect PCs have been specifically crafted for the OS X operating system. Of course, the quality of the scare tactics used by the Mac-centric malware leave a lot to be desired, but it does not change the fact that malware authors have started taking note of OS X as a viable platform to carry out attacks on. Either way, the golden rule regarding online content applies, regardless of a user's choice of operating system: if in doubt, junk it.

Source: Commtouch, SecureList

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