LizaMoon attack infects millions of websites

By Stacy Cowley, tech editor


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Have you heard the scary news about 'LizaMoon,' a malicious code attack that has already infected more than a million websites?

Don't panic. This particular bit of hacker mischief is setting off alarms among online security watchdogs for its speed and scope, but built-in software safeguards mean few actual users will end up suffering.

The exploit drew headlines because it's affecting a surprisingly large number of websites -- nearly 4 million so far -- and because some of those sites feed into Apple's iTunes platform. Websense, the security software vendor that first broke the news about LizaMoon in its blog, played up the iTunes connection in its first warning about the attack.

But Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) has iTunes designed to automatically neutralize this kind of threat. That means there's zero risk of an iTunes user's computer actually getting infected by this bit of malware. Websense acknowledged that in its latest LizaMoon update.

"Every time there's a mass-injection like this, and there really hasn't been anything this big before, we try to identify larger systems and sites that have been affected," the company wrote in its blog. "There are few systems out there bigger than iTunes, so when we saw that content on itunes.apple.com contained the injected link we wanted to make people aware of that, even if the script didn't work."

LizaMoon is what's called a SQL code injection attack, where a Web application vulnerability is exploited to inject malicious code into affected websites. If a Web surfer visits an affected site, they'll be redirected to a rogue website that tries to install a "scareware" file. The file generates messages warning the user that their computer is infected with viruses, and offers to sell them antivirus software in defense. Most actual, legitimate antivirus programs will detect and eliminate the malicious file.

And most websites have protections in place to prevent them from getting infected in the first place. While LizaMoon has infested million of websites, security experts say it's a run-of-the-mill threat that is mostly hitting obscure, low-traffic sites.

"Defense against your sites getting infected is the standard things we ought to be doing anyway," the SANS Internet Storm Center, a security monitoring site, wrote in its LizaMoon analysisTo top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play

Search for Jobs

Index Last Change % Change
Dow 18,181.75 -32.67 -0.18%
Nasdaq 4,977.36 -10.53 -0.21%
S&P 500 2,107.97 -2.77 -0.13%
Treasuries 2.03 0.01 0.74%
Data as of 10:19am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 15.80 -0.24 -1.50%
Apple Inc 130.35 -0.06 -0.05%
Facebook Inc 79.91 -0.50 -0.62%
General Electric Co 25.90 0.00 0.02%
Hewlett-Packard Co 34.59 0.58 1.71%
Data as of 10:04am ET
Sponsors

Sections

UnitedHealth places sharp limits on coverage for laparoscopic or abdominal hysterectomies, following warnings from experts that it poses risks to patients. More

The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to reveal its second budget, an event so highly anticipated that TV news channels have doubled their advertising rates around Saturday's presentation. More

British fashion company Roman was thrown into the spotlight this week after a debate about #TheDress went viral. More

Glassdoor recently published its annual list of the highest-rated companies for interns. More