Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Erin Andrews video spreads virus

If you happen to come across a website that claims to feature video footage of ESPN sportscaster Erin Andrews naked, whatever you do, don't click on it.

Andrews was recently videotaped undressing through a hotel room peephole, and clever hackers are using the demand for the salacious vid to spread a computer virus, according to anti-virus and security company Sophos.

Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant at Sophos, a computer security company, told CNN that the viral video of Erin Andrews gives hackers an opportunity to compromise Mac and PC machines.

Taking advantage of what was a highly-searched topic over the weekend, many sites set up links advertising the video, even after ESPN, Andrews' employer, and her lawyer put forth a strong legal effort to get all traces of the real video taken offline with threats towards anyone who published it.

"Hackers are no slacks when it comes to taking advantage of a hot Internet search trend. And they have been quick to set up bogus Web pages claiming to contain the video footage of Ms. Andrews in her hotel room," said Graham Cluley.

It’s unclear how many people have been infected with the virus or if computers have been harmed by the incident, Cluley said. The virus gets on computers when people try to play the video of Andrews, he said. A message asks Internet users to download a video player and a virus instead infects their machines, he said.

Cluley urged people not to look for the clip.

“If you want to look at naked women buy yourself an adult magazine or go and get yourself a girlfriend,” he said. “Searching on the Web is a really dangerous thing to do.”

The video is flying across the Web on social networks, Cluley said, adding that shortened Web links, such as those from tinyurl.com and bit.ly, add to the problem because Internet users can’t tell where the links go until they click them.

TMZ says the video is being shopped to the highest bidder, but the site has stated that it will not publish or purchase the footage.

The person(s) responsible for the video and its subsequent publication has yet to be identified.

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