Webroot sent out a press release bringing us the shocking news that hackers read the news too:

For the first time, hackers are capitalizing on the top news stories from Google Trends Labs, which lists the day’s most frequently searched topics, which can include news of the Wall St. bail out or the presidential campaign

Webroot has noticed that these online criminals set up fake blogs containing copies of real news articles about the subject to raise their ranking in the search results at Google and other sites; users are then tricked into downloading malware posing as a video codec needed to view videos on the fake blog. Part of the advice they give is:

Download videos and other multimedia files only from known and trusted Web sites or blogs

The main problem here is that the general public will trust websites that show up high in the search results for popular topics; since they show up in Google they must be trustworthy. The good news is that these sites can be easily identified by anyone with a background in computer security, and I think it might not be too hard to detect some of these automatically. If Google directs some more resources to this, it will both protect a lot of people from malware and improve search results.

In the meantime we’ll have to live with lots of fake blog posts and spam mail about cassowaries: