Bill Cosby Is Not Dead, Just the Victim of Malware Spreaders
Article by George Norman
On 09 Feb 2010
It’s the Kanye West and Johnny Depp story all over again. People with malicious intent have started a rumor that popular comedian and actor Bill Cosby, 72, died of natural causes, in his chair at home. Just like the rumor proclaiming Kanye West died in a car crash, or the rumors stating that Johnny Depp died in car accident in France, the rumors about Bill Cosby’s demise are fake.

Bill Cosby is alive and doing in well. As a matter of fact, he posted this message on the official Bill Cosby site:

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“About 10 hours ago, an Internet hoax started that said Bill Cosby is dead. The announcement of me being dead may be a VIRUS. And now ladies and gentlemen for my rebuttal: As you well know, a dead person cannot rebuttal. Therefore, I am rebuttaling to tell you that when I heard the news I immediately began rebuttaling and went into denial. My wife has just informed me that there is no such word as rebuttaling, she says the word is rebutting. But I don't care, because I'm alive!”

The reason why people with malicious intent started this rumor is to propagate malware. Thanks to search engine poisoning, malicious webpages appear in the list of search results when a user looks for more info about Bill Cosby and his early demise. If the user were to visit one of these malicious webpages, he would be greeted by a fake online malware scanner.

The whole thing goes something like this: a prompt appears informing the user that his system is vulnerable and he should perform an online scan -> a fake online scanner appears, claims to have found malware and advises the user to get a fake antivirus application (a rogue) to keep his computer safe and protected. Fake online malware scanners are a common technique of distributing rogue. To see what rogues are out there, check out our dedicated section here .

Twitter seems to have been crucial in spreading the rumor. “The incorrect rumors 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,” said Graham Cluley, Senior Technology Consultant with Sophos, company that specializes in providing antivirus, anti-spam, spyware removal software, network and internet security, data protection, and computer security solutions. The lesson here is to check before you start spreading some crazy rumor.



Tags: Bill Cosby, Malware, Rogue, Fake antivirus, Sophos, Security
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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