Celebrity-Jacking: What is it and why is it important to your security

Celebrity-Jacking is an abbreviation of Celebrity Hijacking and it is an old favourite with hackers and other web miscreants. Celebrity Hijacking exploits popular interest in a celebrity to get people to click on silly things with their computer mouse.

February this year was the tenth anniversary of an early example of this: the Kournikova virus. Anna Kournikova was a tennis star renowned for her flair for tennis fashion. This virus was delivered via an email promising a detailed picture of her but instead delivered a nasty mass mailer that spat spam from your computer.

The company I was working for when this charming virus came out had their email servers tied up in knots for hours. The corporate anti-virus product didn’t have the definitions to protect against until days after it hit.

Even as recently as 2009 poisoned emails promising pictures of Michael Jackson’s autopsy were going around.

But now there is a new attack vector for Celebrity-Jacking: Social Media.  These days instead of getting an email promising pictures of the Royal Wedding with a mass mailer virus, you’re more likely to get a link from a social media web site promising a video of Kate lifting Bonnie Prince William’s kilt at Balmoral. Once you click on the link you either get immediately infected or you get a message that your computer (pc or mac) needs some codexes to view the video and then you get infected when you download the “codexes” . Or whatever the latest celebrity wedding/scandal/event that’s in the news will be used as the lure.

How do you protect your corporate network from Celebrity-Jacking? You can tighten the spam filters but the target is always moving. There’s no point in blocking every email that mentions Michael Jackson now, he’s no longer the celebrity lure he was in 2009 after his death. You can block access to all social media web sites from your corporate network but then how do you update your corporate social media and how do you keep it up to date? Block Facebook today and then maybe Google + tomorrow and then the day after?

Best solution is to regularly educate your employees about Internet security and to have an acceptable use policy for technology in your firm.