Balloon Boy, Windows 7 Latest Malware Draws

If it’s in the headlines, it’ll probably wind up as spam.

That’s the word from McAfee Labs this week as researchers at the security software firm reported that two of the biggest stories this week, the so-called “Balloon Boy” and the imminent release of Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system, are also the most popular search terms for malware purveyors.

According to Dave Marcus, director of security research and communications at McAfee Labs, the “Balloon Boy” spam directs users to “Canadian Pharmacy” Web sites that are almost exclusively hosted in China.

The bogus Windows 7 spam sends users to sites that sell pirated software that’s often laced with malware.

“Spammers and scammers have latched onto Balloon Boy as a lure to sell pharmaceuticals,” Marcus said. “Given the amount of news the original story of Falcon Heene and the runaway balloon produced, and the subsequent news around the possible scam, it was too attractive a lure to be ignored.”

Spammers and phishers in recent months have targeted celebrities and major breaking news events to hawk their illicit wares. In September, the disastrous California wildfires generated a lot of legitimate compassion and a flood of malware derived from black-hat search engine optimization programs.

The same was true in the days immediately following the unexpected death of pop superstar Michael Jackson.

“Be careful what you click and mind the news,” Marcus said. “It is often the lure the spammers are looking for.”

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