This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Even after his death in a U.S.-led raid on Sunday, Osama bin Laden's name lives on in the form of computer viruses and other forms of malware.
The computer viruses have spread when users click on links that promise to show photos or video of bin Laden's bullet-ridden body. No such photos or video though they apparently exist have yet been released by the U.S. government.
Unsuspecting computer and Facebook users have been struck by malware when they see a message advertising that such photos can be viewed by opening an attachment. Word of caution from Internet security experts: Don't fall for it.
Trend Micro, an Internet security firm, has reported that a Facebook "chat virus" has been making the rounds, which promises a link to a video of bin Laden's execution. The message requests that you paste the so-called video embed code into your browser, and a program immediately sends out personalized chat messages to your Facebook friends with the video link. It also messes with your Facebook status.
According to Trend Micro, the lesson is: "If you receive an unsolicited link from someone, even someone you know, check with them first before you click. You never know, you could be doing them a favor and letting them know they have been duped. And never paste anything that is not a URL into your browser address bar."
Meanwhile, the Internet security firm F-Secure warns that an e-mail attachment called "Fotos_Osama_Bin_Laden.zip" will install a dangerous trojan on your computer that can affect your bank accounts. "It will install itself on the system … and starts to monitor your online banking sessions … trying to redirect your payments to wrong accounts," according to an F-Secure news release.
Dave Marcus, director of security research and communications at McAfee Labs, which makes antivirus software, said computer users currently need to be aware of these specific scams and files floating around related to bin Laden's death:
• The promise of video in which Osama bin Laden is shown holding a newspaper with today's date.
Marcus then warns in McAfee's blog: "Beware of ANY verbiage, subject lines in emails, links via Facebook or Twitter that contain words like these as they will almost certainly just get you into trouble. Make sure your security software is fully updated and be sure to use safe browsing software as well."
In a trick called "social engineering," scammers and virus makers use big news events such as bin Laden's death to entice computer users to click on attachments that spread viruses or install malware.
Symantec, an Internet security software company, recorded more than 3 billion malware attacks in 2010, according to its April Internet Security Threat Report. The number of Web attacks grew 93 percent from 2009 to 2010, according to the report.