Don’t Shoot the Messenger

“Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever.” – Napoleaon Bonaparte

The bad guys do their homework. They don’t just go willy-nilly infecting any old website. Oh no, they constantly research the most common searches, at any given time, and then infect those websites. More bang for the buck, as they say.

Special events, like the Olympics, holidays, popular current events, and celebrities are all fair game in the quest to make your computing/internet life miserable.

Whether or not you knew it, and based on all the crapware and viruses I find on your machines, you didn’t know it, several cybersecurity organizations keep tabs on such things. I receive a quarterly report from an outfit who values their anonymity, and thus shall remain unnamed here. This particular report outlines the top, most infected, everyday things that people type into their search engine, then end up on an infected site, either via redirect, or lack of tech acumen. (A very common, mistake is to click on the first/top result from your search engine.) Surprisingly, or not, the top 5 items are always the same. They may get jumbled around during the reporting period, but they’re always in the top five. And, without further ado, here they are (in no particular order):

  • music lyrics
  • recipes
  • coupons/rebates
  • bible verses
  • pornography

I can sense many of you nodding in agreement about the evil porn and music lyrics things, but recipes, coupons, and <gasp> bible verses?  I have a theory on that, so remind me later.

Blue Coat Security, a company that cares little about anonymity, published a list of most infected search topics during the 2013 Christmas season. Again, in no particular order.

  • crafts for Christmas
  • Christmas needlepoint designs
  • repurpose old Christmas cards.(?)
  • free printable Christmas word scramble
  • ideas for Christmas gifts in mason jars (really)
  • weight loss after Christmas

Don’t forget to remind me about that theory of mine.

McAfee, a company that should choose anonymity considering the shenanigans of their founder, recently published their annual list of most infected celebrity searches for 2014. (The list was made public on October 1st, so I suppose either the celebs atop the list either have a lock, or McAfee just figures that Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas will provide enough entertainment for the cybercrooks and they’ll forget about celebrities until after the new year.)

  1. Jimmy Kimmel
  2. Armin van Buuren
  3. Ciara
  4. Flo Rida
  5. Bruce Springsteen
  6. Blake Sheldon
  7. Britney Spears
  8. Jon Bon Jovi
  9. Chelsea Handler
  10. Christina Aguillera

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER INSERTED HERE: [The above celebrity links are all to Wikipedia, which may, at times, lack accuracy, but is generally crapware free.]

Now let’s for a moment examine this top 10 of most infected, searched celebs.  We have two late night talk show hosts (Kimmel and Handler), a country singer (Sheldon), two admittedly past their prime rock guys (Springsteen and Bon Jovi), two past their prime (although they’d probably not admit it) female pop stars (Spears & Aguillera), two hip-hop artists (Ciara & Flo Rida), and a Dutch DJ famous for spinning electronic dance music tunes (van Buuren).

Before getting to my theory, first I need to provide a definition:

noun: majority; plural noun: majorities
1. the greater number.
My Theory (Thanks for reminding me):
What is the common denominator for the majority of all the infected web searches listed above?  Coupons, recipes and bible verses? Old(er) people. Christmas needlepoint & crafts, repurposing Christmas cards, gifts in mason jars? Old(er) people. Late night talk show hosts & past-their-prime music celebs? Old(er) people who can’t stay up that late.
See, the bad guys not only know what to infect, but they also know who to infect. The older generation, and yes, I claim membership there, for the most part, just isn’t as tech savvy as younger people. A bit more naive when it comes to believing that if Google, Bing, Yahoo, AOL (I have difficulty even typing that) or the crapware leads them somewhere, it must be OK. And once infected, that less savvy, more trusting person will be more apt to fall for the “click here to clean, speed-up, or optimize your computer scams. And now more malware. That’s when the bad guys know to start cold calling people. Eventually they’ll end up with someone on the phone who has a crapware laden machine and will be willing to pay them, with a credit card, to clean things up, even though they don’t.
Sorry, but it’s true.
As for hip-hop star Flo Rida. I mean come on. You can’t convince me that a vast majority of those searches weren’t done by northern seniors, looking to relocate to the Sunshine State, who made an “oops” with their spacebar.


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