Monday, 06 November 2006 20:00

Wikipedia: hacked and infected!

By
The German version of Wikipedia has been hacked to spread malware to unsuspecting users. Will the sneaky ‘social engineering’ attacks of the hackers ever end?

While the offending pages on the German edition of Wikipedia were quickly removed once discovered, with all versions of the page permanently deleted, according to German news site Heise Online, the ease of which Wikipedia was hacked to be the source of malware has caused shockwaves around the world.

Cleverly using an article about the Blaster worm as cover, they modified the article and placed a link to a so-called ‘fix’, and urged people to download it. Of course, anyone doing so that didn’t have up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spyware protection would have found malware installed onto their machines, instead of malware being taken away.

To make matters worse, the German hackers then spammed the online German community, urging them to visit the Wikipedia site for information on getting rid of the W32.Blaster worm.

With Wikipedia still seen as an authoritative site, despite recent scandals, many could have easily been fooled into believing the link really did offer a download of value, instead of some nasty malware!

The ‘safe’ nature of the Wikipedia site would also have fooled many browser-based anti-phishing tools specifically designed to protect users from malicious websites.

It just goes to show, it’s getting harder to trust the sites we visit online, while emails we receive should always be suspect, even if they appear to come from a friend.

An interesting new program has emerged on the Internet to help protect users from the menace of phishing attacks is called Trustdefender. Available to download from www.trustdefender.com, I have to give you fair disclosure: the software is actually made by a couple of friends here in Australia. It’s nice to see Australians able to develop world-beating software!

TrustDefender is the only program I know that can help you determine, with certainty, whether the site you are visiting really is the one you intended to visit. It's not a browser based plug-in, so can't be hacked like browser plug-ins can. This is increasingly vital in this day and age, as phishing attacks grow increasingly sophisticated and end up tricking many into divulging their details to hackers, when they thought they were ‘updating their account’, be it with their bank, auction site or other online service.

TrustDefender is incredibly advanced, is super easy to use, and yet is available free of charge! There is the option of a paid ‘Gold Edition’, but this reverts to the free version after 21 days, and you don’t need to pay for it before you download it.

It has been through much beta testing over the past year, with the version available today extremely solid and robust.

I haven’t mentioned it before because it has been going through extensive beta testing, but is now an excellent security product that blows away the competition from Symantec, McAfee and others, who purport to have similar types of products, but ones which have been demonstrated to simply not be anywhere near as effective as TrustDefender, nor do they have TrustDefender’s tiny footprint – it uses very minimal resources on your PC.

For now, TrustDefender works on Windows XP machines, with a Windows Vista version in the works. It’s quick to install, effortless to use and it’s free. Give it a go!

And in short - the hackers will never stop. Their tricky attacks will only get trickier and more clever. Users need to be more cautious than ever before. Software like TrustDefender is software whose time has definitely come!

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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