Malware Targets LinkedIn Users

by Andy on January 9th, 2009 in Researcher Comments, Security Alerts.

The business-oriented social networking site, LinkedIn, has had a recent bout with malware, as you may have seen by all of the buzz this week in the news headlines. As most of you who use them know, social networking sites, while having many advantages to users, have long been targeted by socially engineered scams - meaning you need to take care when roaming around on these types of sites.

In terms of the issues seen lately on LinkedIn - profiles on the site were created to act as a staging point for the distribution of 'FakeAlert' software. This malware serves typical scareware messages claiming that your machine is infected and that you should install the rogue anti-malware application that the warning message is peddling. Despite the FTCs recent efforts in tackling the scourge of rogueware, the fact that these applications continue to proliferate proves they still provide a significant return of investment for malware authors.

The LinkedIn profiles themselves consisted of links that claimed to lead to pornographic images/video content of various celebrities. Upon landing at these sites, victims were invited to install a codec to allow them to view the (non-existent) video; the file was not a video codec, but malware. This method of attack continues to prove to be extremely effective. The social engineering technique being applied is, sociologically, extremely interesting; despite users increasing awareness of Internet safety (i.e. maintaining download discipline, avoiding untrustworthy sites, and generally being aware of the pitfalls when navigating the seedier side of the 'net), using a combination of celebrity and sex to entice continues to be effective.

On the plus side, LinkedIn.com has worked very quickly to deal with this threat - it's encouraging to observe the site's administrators' rapid response time. When the scam first became apparent, many profiles were removed immediately. Currently, all of the malicious profiles that we located have now been cleaned up.