AOL hosts 450 infected sites; be careful where you click!

No, not THIS Trojan...

Sunbelt, the people who make CounterSpy and other software security products, reported on their blog yesterday that at least 450 free AOL sites are infected with the Trojan-Downloader.Zlob.Media-Codec, more commonly known as the zlob-fake-codec.

How this works is you click a search engine result that takes you to an infected AOL account (user.aol.com is shown in the screen shot of an infected result page on Sunbelt’s blog), then you’re prompted to download an ActiveX component to view the web page. If you click Continue to download it, your computer is infected with up to two hundred trojans and unsafe ActiveX components.

This is scary news. If you ever thought you or your friends using AOL was merely quaint or funny, this might make you realize it could actually destroy your computer, too. According to Sunbelt, this extremely high-risk infection hosted on aol.com accounts (and on some other websites as well…but mostly ones that end in .info) are:

…typically installed without user interaction through security exploits, and can severely compromise system security. Such risks may open illicit network connections [my note: this may lead to the introduction of botnets that take over your computer], use polymorphic tactics to self-mutate, disable security software, modify system files, and install additional malware. These risks may also collect and transmit personally identifiable information (PII) without your consent and severely degrade the performance and stability of your computer.

Forgive me for saying so, but while one of my LiveJournal web pages was hijacked by a slimy .info not too long ago (and so was the community.livejournal.com page, during the same period of time, by the same people) I can’t remember the last time anyone complained that malware was being hosted on any of our accounts; in fact, I doubt if it’s ever happened. If LiveJournal can manage over 9,000,000 journals, blogs, and full-fledged user-maintained communities without a single whimper of complaint about malware from anyone, why can’t AOL?

Another classic case of While the cat is away, the mice will play, brought to you by AOL.

If that wasn’t enough bad news for AOL users and those who visit their websites, there’s more. A hoax email is now circulating on AOL, eBay and other high-traffic, membership-based sites asking members to confirm their account information. It’s a hoax over 90,000 people fall for every single year. This hoax email in particular is worded so cleverly, there’s hardly a doubt AOL users will click the links and land on phisher’s sites. This is the full text of the AOL phishing email. If you’re a current member of AOL, don’t say I didn’t warn you. Find out how to protect your identity from thieves here.