Stephen Gately’s death exploited by scareware hackers

Graham Cluley
Graham Cluley
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@gcluley

Stephen Gately
Stephen Gately of the popular Irish boy band Boyzone has died at the age of 33.

Just as we saw with the high profile deaths of other celebrities, such as actor Patrick Swayze and actress Natasha Richardson, hackers have not been slow to take advantage of this breaking news story.

Using search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques, cybercriminals have pushed poisoned webpages high on Google’s search results for pop fans hunting for more news on Gately’s demise.

If you visit one of these websites on an unprotected computer then you will be bombarded with bogus security warnings that try and convince you that your PC is infected with malware.

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Fake anti-virus alerts

The hackers’ intention? To trick you into purchasing fake anti-virus software (also known as rogueware or scareware).

Yes, it’s a sad truth that there are people out there who have no qualms out of exploiting the death of a young man to make themselves a quick buck.

My advice is to trust the established news outlets for news, and keep the security of your PC in tip-top condition. After all, who knows what the hackers might do with your information if you hand over your credit card details?

* Image source: Sunrise Seven’s Flickr photostream (Creative Commons)


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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