Page last updated at 10:56 GMT, Friday, 29 January 2010

Scammers exploit Apple iPad fever

Apple iPad unveiling, Getty
The launch capped weeks of speculation about what Apple would launch

Cyber conmen are cashing in on hype surrounding Apple's iPad.

Security firms have come across attempts to subvert search engines to catch out those seeking more information about the tablet.

Those who follow rogue links are re-directed to pages that scan their computer looking for loopholes and vulnerabilities.

Some scammers are using these to peddle security software and others are trying to steal valuable data.

Apple attack

Before and after the launch of the tablet computer, terms such as "Apple" and "iPad" were among the most popular on search sites and micro-blogging services such as Twitter.

Symantec said it had seen hi-tech criminals tuning booby-trapped webpages to show up near the top of search results when people go looking for more information.

Those visiting such webpages risk losing personal data, Symantec researcher Joji Hamada warned in a blog posting.

Looking for search terms such as "Apple Ipad rumor" or "Apple Ipad size" led people to sites peddling rogue security software, he said.

Methusela Ferrer of software firm CA said she had seen so-called "scraper sites" change to take advantage of iPad interest. Scraper sites are automated pages that grab or "scrape" information from news sites and other sources and combine them to keep their pages at the top of search results.

Scraper sites often sell their services to cyber criminals who create viruses and code to exploit vulnerabilities in browsers and other programs.

She said she had seen a sophisticated site that tuned its attack depending on whether visitors were using an Apple machine or a Windows PC.

Mac users got sent to a site that tried to entice them to use a credit card to pay for pirated movies. On another site users got sent to a site peddling fake Mac security software.

Another iPad-themed attack sends visitors to a site that poses as Google's search page and manipulates the results people see.

To avoid falling victim to hi-tech scams, security firms say people should ensure their machine has all the latest operating system patches, has up to date security software, uses a firewall and exercise caution when visiting unfamiliar sites.

Newsworthy events are regularly targeted by cyber conmen. For instance, the earthquake in Haiti has prompted some to try to trick people into handing over donations to conmen rather than charities.

Big events also often trigger a rash of e-mails that travel with booby-trapped attachments. Those opening the attachment often find their computer is hijacked by a virus and can mean credit card numbers and valuable logins are stolen.



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Silicon RepublicHackers take advantage of iPad fever to poison SEO searches - 3 hrs ago
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