Hackers Target Basketball Fans With March Madness Malware

Basketball fans, beware.

Hackers are taking advantage of bracket-related Web surfing and initiating some madness of their own, with tactics as sneaky as spreading malicious software through March Madness blog posts.

Online security company Websense discovered two March Madness-related malware scams earlier this week, one in the form of URLs posted in blog comments that took users to a phony anti-virus scanning site, and another as a search engine optimization scam that infected basketball-related terms and pushed them to the top in Google (GOOG).

It’s a clever and common tactic, particularly for an event like the NCAA tournament, which has fans checking sports sites, blogs and mobile devices for updates on their favorite teams. Websense’s chief technology officer, Dan Hubbard, says that hackers try to capitalize on popular events or stories on the Internet, whether it’s a major athletic event such as the Olympics, the recent presidential election, or a celebrity breakup that drives Web traffic. Users need to be wary of links to fake anti-virus scanners that urge installation. “Just because something comes up on your screen and tells you to install it doesn’t mean you have to actually do it,” he says. “That’s a really hard message to get across to the consumers.”

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