Searching for presidential campaign videos can bring malware

Webroot announced that it has detected malicious software being propagated as campaign videos for John McCain and Barack Obama. Attackers are taking advantage of unsuspecting users during the U.S. Presidential election season by utilizing the Gnutella file sharing network and seeding it with malware disguised as material relevant to the campaigns. This file sharing network is commonly accessed by clients such as LimeWire and FrostWire.

A search of the FrostWire network indicated that of the 34 search results for “Obama Speech” 14 contained active malware while five of the 19 results for “McCain Speech” were found to be harboring malware.

The most common malware variant spreading through this method is W32/Zipwire. Users become infected with the malware after downloading a zip file with a name such as “Democratic Convention 2008 – Barack Obama Acceptance” The contents of these zip files contain executable files (such as Setup.exe). When run, these files infect the host machine with random malware, including rogue antivirus applications, which detect fake security issues on the infected machine in order to entice users to buy the rogue application for disinfection.

Other malware threats such as password stealers and backdoors can be downloaded as well, which may give a hacker remote access to the infected machine or allow them to gather personal data such as usernames and passwords.

According to the Webroot Threat Research Center, this threat poses a number of different risks. For example, once infected the computer can be accessed remotely, which allows for the potential installation of new malware. These could include system monitors that spy on the user in an attempt to gather the information needed – including social security numbers, bank accounts, home addresses and more – to steal their identity.

Below are several steps to prevent this type of malware attack:

1) Always have a current version of antispyware, antivirus and firewall product;

2) Never download free products or purchase them from unknown Web sites and vendors, or peer-to-peer networks;

3) Never click on a link while visiting a peer-to-peer site;

4) Never purchase a product that is the result of an unknown alert;

5) Make sure the computer is up-to-date by always installing new Microsoft or Apple security updates;

6) Make it a point to check your credit through one of the three credit bureaus; and,

7) Use a credit card that has sufficient fraud protection and never use a debit card online.

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