Thursday, September 16, 2010

Do your kids download free movies, ringtones or songs? You may get more than what you asked for. Cybercreeps hide their evil behind free downloads.

Do your kids download free movies, ringtones or songs?  You may get more than what you asked for.  Cybercreeps hide their evil behind free downloads.

Do you follow Celebrity news of actors, actresses, athletes, royalty?  

Does anyone at your home or office click on ads they see online?

If so, you or your kids or employees may be opening the door to cybercreeps and cybercriminals.

Anyone at your home following Lady Gaga on Twitter?  When McAfee, the internet security software firm, did a search in May for "Lady Gaga" on Twitter, they were led down a dark path of pornography and other adult animated content.

Got Justin Bieber fans in your house?  If your kids went to YouTube on July 4, they were redirected to porn sites.

Cybercriminals love to hide their evilness behind music and movie sites.  According to McAfee's report, especially behind "free" downloads.

When the word "free" is added to the search for music ringtones, there was a 300% increase in the riskiness of sites returned by your favorite and popular search engines.  Think Google or Bing.

McAfee's report called "Digital Music & Movies Report:  The True Cost of Free Entertainment" also noted that fan clubs have ads that may be hiding malware.  Not to be left out, YouTube and Twitter also had malicious code hiding behind links and comments when it came to fan clubs and celebrity news.

"It is fairly common to find multiple fan sites built by cybercriminals with the express purpose  of attempting to corral traffic to sell ads or infect users." Source:  McAfee Report.

It is estimated that roughly 7% of the websites providing unauthorized content, such as a free movie that should not be free, are directly linked to known cybercrime organizations.  

Even sites like the New York Times and Yahoo! Inc have had ads with malicious code sneak through their processes.  This is called "MALVERTISING".

How They Trick You:
The sites look very professional
Some sites give you a free trial period
Once they are in your computer, they may "FINGERPRINT" your computer by capturing your  software versions and other pertinent information that can be sold to 3rd parties. 

5 Easy Steps to Protect Yourself:
Keep your browsers and antivirus software up to date

Think twice or avoid clicking on links or ads altogether.  If you are really interested, go to a search engine, type in what you want to look at plus the word, "scam" and see what pops up before you click.

Tell your kids to avoid using the word "free" when searching for something and have them ask you for permission to download files to the computer

Only download music, ringtones, and movies from commercial companies

When in doubt about a company, check with your Better Business Bureau

San Jose Business Journal, "McAfee: Digital music, video cyberthreats growing", Elizabeth Kim, September 14, 2010.

McAfee Press Release, Business Wire, September 14, 2010.

McAfee Report, "Digital Music & Movies Report:  The True Cost of Free Entertainment", by Paula Greve.


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