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
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,098.45 18.88 0.11%
Nasdaq 4,580.27 22.58 0.50%
S&P 500 2,003.37 6.63 0.33%
Treasuries 2.34 0.01 0.39%
Data as of 8:22am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 16.09 0.08 0.50%
Apple Inc 102.50 0.25 0.24%
Intel Corp 34.92 0.27 0.78%
Facebook Inc 74.82 0.96 1.31%
General Electric Co 25.98 -0.03 -0.12%
Data as of Aug 29

Sections

The deal would value Vice at $2.5 billion. The online media company would also create content for the cable network, delivering a wider audience. More

Gas prices are falling to nearly $3 a gallon in some parts of South Carolina, and that will soon be common in much of the country. More

Netflix told the FCC that its speed on the Comcast network became so slow that customers began dropping their service. More

The Coolest Cooler is the most successful Kickstarter campaign in the site's history, raising $13.3 million from over 62,000 backers. More

Five CNNMoney readers share stories about saving that you can learn from: What they would do differently if they had another chance. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.