Hackers lurking in Obama's Web site

Hackers are posting links to Trojan download sites on the my.barackobama.com Web site.

US President Barack Obama ran a successful Web 2.0 campaign last year. Now, as president, he's got to deal with a very Web 2.0 problem: hackers abusing the social-networking features of his Web site.

Hackers have registered bogus accounts on Obama's online community, my.barackobama.com, where they are posting images designed to set off a chain of events that lead to malicious Trojan horse programs. These programs are stepping stones used by hackers to download more and more malware onto a victim's computer.

The problem on Obama's Web site is not unique. Hackers and the operators of popular Web sites are often caught in a cat and mouse game, with the bad guys constantly finding a new way of uploading malicious programs just as soon as one avenue of attack is closed. Social-networking sites want to give their users as many cool ways of enhancing their own Web pages as possible -- my.barackobama.com lets users create their own blogs -- while at the same time reining in any misuse.

"The U.S. Presidential campaign has shown the world how governments can leverage Web 2.0," Websense wrote on a company blog outlining the issue Monday. "However, this ... is yet another opportunity to spread more malicious code."

The scam starts when the victim sees what appears to be a video posted to the my.barackobama.com Web site. It reads simply "click here to see movie." By clicking on the fake video, the user is taken to another Web site that looks like a YouTube page filled with pornography. Clicking on the fake YouTube link prompts the victim to download what appears to be a piece of video decompression software called a codec. The fake codec is actually the Trojan program.

To make matters worse, hackers are also putting links to the malicious Barackobama.com pages in comment forms all over the Web, making them likely to come up as Google searches results. Because of the way search engines work, pages hosted on a popular site like Barackobama.com are typically given a higher search result ranking than other Web pages.

Only about a third of the major antivirus vendors are now detecting this Trojan program, Websense said.

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Robert McMillan

IDG News Service
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