McAfee on Wednesday identified over 10 000 Web pages rigged by cybercriminals to hijack PCs of unsuspecting Web surfers, one of the largest attacks to date of this kind.
The Web pages have all been modified with code that silently redirects visitors to another Web site laden with a malware cocktail that attempts to break into the user's PC. The redirect and the attempted break-ins all happen unbeknownst to the Web surfer.
Compromised Web pages include pages on everyday Web sites such as travel sites, government Web sites and hobbyist sites. The attack serves as a reminder that even trusted Web sites could be malicious.
"Often you hear warnings about not going to un-trusted sites," says Craig Schmugar, threat researcher at McAfee Avert Labs. "That is good advice, but it is not enough. Even sites you know can become compromised. You went to a place before that you trust, but that trust was violated through a vulnerability that was exploited."
The malware that's ultimately planted tries to steal passwords to online games. A back door also allows the subsequent installation of additional malicious programs. Cybercrooks have increasingly been targeting online gamers as items in virtual worlds and characters in games have now got monetary value in the physical world.
McAfee Avert Labs first spotted this attack on Wednesday morning, March 12. Of the 10 000 pages that were compromised a number has already been cleaned up. A single entity is likely behind this attack, since the malicious code on all these pages was served up from the same server in China.