Balloon Boy throws up on TV – Sick hackers take advantage

Graham Cluley
Graham Cluley
@[email protected]

America has been transfixed with the story of Falcon Heene, the six-year-old boy who was believed to have accidentally hitched a lift in his father’s experimental helium balloon on Thursday.


Emergency services and TV stations scrambled into action as the nation held its breath – only to discover that the boy was not in the balloon, and concerns grew that he could have fallen to his death.

However, in happy news, Falcon Heene was found to be safe and well, hiding in a box in his family’s attic.

Normally the story would have ended there, but during an interview with the family on CNN’s Larry King show, Falcon’s parents asked their son why he had not come out from hiding when they were calling for him.

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“You guys said we did this for the show,” replied the boy to his father, who seemed uncomfortable.


Immediately, conspiracy theorists leapt on the possibility that the family – who had previously appeared on the “Wife Swap” TV show – had masterminded the balloon incident as a publicity stunt.

In subsequent media appearances, the young boy – who is suffering from stomach flu – has thrown up. On one occasion he vomited as his father was interviewed live on the “Today” show. Awkwardly, his father continued answering questions even though the child sitting beside him was obviously in some discomfort.

Okay, so you’re now up to speed on the story. And you can probably imagine that a lot of people are searching the internet for video footage of the interviews.

However, searching the net for this content and other breaking news about the “Balloon Boy” case is something that should be done cautiously.

Balloon Boy search result

Hackers have once again created malicious webpages around a hot news story, knowing that computer users will be hunting for information. Visiting such sites could put your data and identity at risk.

Balloon Boy search trend

As the above Google Trends graph demonstrates, searching for “Balloon Boy Throws Up” is red hot at the moment.

As usual, it’s the hackers who are the sickest of all.

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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