Beware: Fake bin Laden pictures could be computer virus

The White House decided Wednesday it would not release a photo of bin Laden's dead body. But the public now knows that these images exist, and scammers are exploiting the situation to attack unsuspecting users’ computers.


From search engines to social media, fake videos and images are popping up all over the web. IT professionals are reminding users to be extra cautious.

Online scammers worked quickly to produce these links, claiming that one click could take you to the real pictures of bin Laden’s body.

“They're abusing your trust, so usually people fall for these kinds of scams,” said Vahid Zarghami, and IT professional with Network Security Solutions.

Zarghami says knowing the White House isn’t releasing the photos won't stop hackers from trying to trap unsuspecting users with malicious spyware.

“You just want to see the video, you download the player but its not a player -- of course there is a player, but there is a malicious program hidden next to the player that you don't see,” he explained.

Such programs can take over a computer, giving users little access to take control, and can leach personal information.

“You’re technically allowing an unwanted program to be installed on your machine, sending out your information to the creator,” Zarghami said. His company notices a spike in these cases following major news events, so they're prepared in advance.

“We go and download the latest patches and we download the latest anti-virus software and we equip ourselves,” he said.

To avoid falling in the trap, he says to use your best judgment, update your anti-virus program and ask yourself this question:
“Mouse over the link, and the name of the link appears on top of the cursor,” he said. “So you have to think to yourself... does it have anything to do with the news i'm looking for?”

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