Beware of Moammar Gaddafi Links and Photos

You have heard of the saying, “There’s an app for that!”  The same could be said for many malware programs and viruses.  With the announcement of the death of Maommar Gaddafi and his family being featured prominently in the news there have been reports of links and photos containing dangerous computer viruses and malware coding.

Mashable explains, that these notices of news and photos are “easy vehicles for malicious links.”  Mashable states,

“When news like Gaddafi’s death breaks, however, there is no history for them to rely on and malicious links masquerading as news can more easily rank high in search results. Another reason is that people often seek such images from unfamiliar sources. Websites or Twitter messages promise to link to a breaking topic and then lead instead to another site or virus. The Gaddafi photo is a prime candidate for this type of malicious links, so it’s wise to use caution when clicking,” it said.

The Twitterverse exploded with messages of photos taken of a shot, wounded or hidden Gaddafi.  Other posts across the web talked about his funeral arrangements,  his children and their future.  There have been reports of cell phone photos taken of the confrontation between two political forces in Libya.

PC World reports that “The massive attack that has infected PCs by tricking users into clicking links in fake messages from shows little sign of ending soon.”  (reported on Friday, Oct. 21,2 011)  This version of malware was hidden in the links to “ Top Ten Lists” and “CNN Alerts: My Custom Alert”, which supposedly featured news and reports of Gaddafi’s demise but directed users that they had to download and install a software program to view.  The hackers disguised it as a legitimate CNN site and the malware was contained in what over 11 million searchers thought was an update to Flash Player.   After trying the download, users were caught in a hopeless loop requiring them to try to shut down their computer to stop the download before it could complete or download it and try to effect repairs to their system afterwards.

Where are you most likely to find accurate information on this story as it unfolds?  Prominent news sites and channels like MSNBC, Fox News, the Associated Press or New York Times just to name a few.  CNN warns, “Much caution should be used with these reports because false information has come out previously.”

The death of Osama bin Laden caused the same sort of interest from hackers, as interested readers flocked to their computers desperate for word or photo of the demise of one of the most wanted people on the planet.

What advice can we give to help you avoid malware?  If you receive a link, especially one from a friend or family member or an unusual source in your email don’t open it.  Look to legitimate news sources for information and photos.  Link love is not always so “loving”  and is best left avoided.