“Google has begun issuing warnings to millions of people that their PC has been infected with a virus,” says a report today by BBC News.
“The malicious code pipes browser traffic through sites that promote the scammers’ wares which include fake security programs. Those hit by the virus will be warned with a message that will appear at the top of searches carried out via Google. The search firm estimates that more than two million people have been hit by the infection.”
Google security engineer Damian Menscher posted the following information:
Update July 20, 2011: We’ve seen a few common questions we thought we’d address here:
The malware appears to have gotten onto users’ computers from one of roughly a hundred variants of fake antivirus, or “fake AV” software that has been in circulation for a while. We aren’t aware of a common name for the malware.
We believe a couple million machines are affected by this malware.
We’ve heard from a number of you that you’re thinking about the potential for an attacker to copy our notice and attempt to point users to a dangerous site instead. It’s a good security practice to be cautious about the links you click, so the spirit of those comments is spot-on. We thought about this, too, which is why the notice appears only at the top of our search results page. Falsifying the message on this page would require prior compromise of that computer, so the notice is not a risk to additional users.
In the meantime, we’ve been able to successfully warn hundreds of thousands of users that their computer is infected. These are people who otherwise may never have known.
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