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Viruses & Malware

Hackers and Scalper Pounce on Google Wave Invites

Hackers and Scalper Pounce on Google Wave Invites
October 1, 2009 2:12PM

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Invitations to test Google Wave have prompted hackers to create search traps to sell fake antivirus programs and steal identities. At least one invitation was offered on eBay and reportedly brought in offers up to $27,000. Another invitee reported error messages trying to access Google Wave with the Internet Explorer and Firefox browsers.

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Google Wave has hit some rough waters. Just a day after the Internet search giant began e-mailing invitations to test the wave, online shenanigans have erupted. The online tool, which will allow users to post photos, videos and text in real time, has gained so much buzz that hackers have created search traps for "Google Wave" and a scalper attempted to sell access.

Security company Websense has reported that Google searches on the terms relating to Google Wave show results leading to rogue antivirus offerings.

Patrick Runald, senior manager of security and research at Websense, said this kind of search manipulation has been going on for more than a year.

"The bad guys are looking for interesting topics or keywords that they can use to manipulate search results," Runald said. "They control a lot of computers using malware and create botnets. They keep track of things that interest people as of right now and have these machines take these keywords like Google Wave and do cross-links."

In this case, because searches for Google Wave invitations have sparked interest, they have drawn hackers.

Lining Pockets

Because Google results look authentic at a quick glance, searchers are quick to click them. Rather than being connected to safe Web sites, they are redirected to a rogue antivirus Web site. The Web site informs the visitor that the computer is infected with a virus and offers antivirus security for a price.

Once a user types in financial data such as credit-card numbers, the information is stolen and so may be the user's identity and savings.

"It is always about money," Runald said.

How do you avoid getting stuck in the search trap? Runald said businesses need real-time protection, while home users need to pay close attention the URL and where the Google search result links to.

"If it points to something they are not familiar with, they should not go there," he said. "And anything that screams at you that your computer is infected, don't believe it. Of course, make sure security is up to date and the computer is patched."

While some bad guys are lining their pockets through technology, others are acting like online scalpers.

At least that was the case for an eBay auctioneer named Hagan Blount, reported The Wall Street Journal. Blount started an auction for his Google Wave invite on Tuesday. By midday Wednesday, he had 33 bids for the invite, with the winning bid at $157. Others sent inquiries offering $700, $5,000 and even $27,000 for the invitation. (continued...)

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