Google has confirmed that the error messages people received on Thursday when searching for details of Michael Jackson’s death, was initially perceived as an attack. Searches between 2:45 and 3:15pm were returned with "We're sorry, but your query looks similar to automated requests from a computer virus or spyware application. To protect our users, we can't process your request right now."
The error messages lasted for about 25 minutes on Thursday, just long enough for Google to confirm what was actually going on. The search giant noted that the amount of traffic it saw on this topic was unprecedented, as millions around the world scrambled for accurate information, seemingly all at once. Yahoo has also confirmed that it hit an all-time record for unique visitors with over 16.4 million following the story. This blows away the previous record held by the Obama election day, with a paltry 15.1 million uniques.
The outpouring of sympathy online has been astonishing, and I’m sure Google will learn its lesson on this one.
Bit Torrent user’s who scored pre-released versions of the Windows 7 RC may have gotten more then they bargained for. Malware-laced copies of Microsoft’s newest OS were seeded to torrents in late April, and security researchers are warning users who may have downloaded Windows 7 from non-Microsoft sources, to format, and reinstall their OS.
Adoption rate of the pirated version has slowed since the official release, but as many as 27,000 machines were estimated to be compromised when the command and control center for the bot net was located and finally shut down on May 10th by authorities. Currently, researchers at Damballa are monitoring installations of the infected version, and estimate that approximately 1,600 new machines are added per day. The good news here is that new installations won’t be drafted into the bot net, but it’s still not a good idea to run software from non-trusted sources.
Blocking this type of infection is difficult researchers confess since the Trojan was integrated into the OS installer, and it became active immediately following setup. The situation is also compounded by the reality that Windows 7 still has very limited anti virus options. Operating systems however aren’t the only attack vector for those looking to poison torrents. Similar malware infested Trojans were found in other popular torrented applications including iWork 09 and even Photoshop CS4.