Bill Cosby has NOT died, but rumours fuel hacker scareware attack

Graham Cluley
Graham Cluley
@[email protected]

A hoax has spread rapidly over the internet this weekend, claiming that comedian Bill Cosby has died at the age of 72. However, hunting for information about the story can lead your computer into a nasty malware infection.

In what appears to be the latest example of hackers jumping on the coat-tails of a hot trending search topic, criminals have created malicious webpages which pretend to be a CNN news report about Bill Cosby’s supposed death – but really display fake warnings about security problems on your computer.

These poisoned webpages are appearing high in search engine results – bringing the hackers a steady stream of traffic in the form of unsuspecting computer users searching for information about Bill Cosby.

Fake anti-virus alert

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The warning messages attempt to scare unsuspecting users into downloading a fake anti-virus program onto their computers and possibly handing over their credit card details.

Fake anti-virus lurks on Bill Cosby death website

The incorrect rumours about Bill Cosby dying appear to have started on Twitter, with innocent users ironically fuelling the flames (and possibly sending others into danger when they searched for more information) by retweeting the “news”).

Internet users who believe Bill Cosby has died

Bill Cosby himself has posted a message on his website, claiming that he was not dead.

Bill Cosby claims he has not died

In the past, hackers have exploited rumours of the death of stars such as Kanye West and Johnny Depp.

There are lessons here for everyone: stop spreading “news” of hot breaking stories without checking your facts from a reputable website, be cautious of clicking on links to unknown sites, and always ensure you have up-to-date anti-virus protection in place to scan every webpage you visit.

Sophos detects the malware attack as Mal/FakeAV-BW.

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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