A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a single tainted digital image may be worth thousands of dollars for computer crooks who are abusing weaknesses in Google’s Image Search service to foist malicious software.
For several weeks, a number of readers have complained that clicking on Google Images search results redirected them to Web pages that pushed rogue anti-virus or “scareware” through misleading security alerts and warnings. On Wednesday, the SANS Internet Storm Center posted a blog entry saying they, too, were receiving reports of Google Image searches leading to fake anti-virus. According to SANS, the attackers have compromised an unknown number of sites with malicious scripts that create garbage Web pages filled with the top search terms from Google Trends. The malicious scripts also fetch images from third-party sites and include them in the junk pages alongside the relevant search terms, so that the automatically generated Web page contains legitimate-looking content.