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Watch out for fake music and media files says security firm

Experts at Security Firm McAfee have issued a warning about the dangers associated with downloading fake files posted online by cyber-criminals in a bid to attract unsuspecting victims.

Internet users are drawn into downloading media files featuring popular groups like British Brit-Nominated Girls Aloud or Earth Wind and Fire from file-sharing networks such as eDonkey or Limewire.

Downloading and running the files - MP3, MPEG or Others - gets a prompt asking the user to install a codec to watch or listen to the file; this then spews endless adverts on the victim's computer.

The application runs only on Windows computers and takes on names in several languages to avoid detection and infect as many users as possible.

Toralv Dirro, a security strategist at McAfee's Avert Labs, says that users are lucky this time around that the threat was relatively "benign" and warned that this could be the beginning of a more worrying trend, especially after the initial success of this first run.

Although various legit companies have been spreading dummy files on file-sharing networks in order to combat piracy, it is the first time that crooks have been using those networks with such results.

In a single week, more than 530,000 computers have been booby-trapped according to McAfee, the largest fake media contamination the company has witnessed in years.

Half a million computers infected with 'malware' in just seven days - Guardian
Half a million infections of latest Trojan - TechRadar
Fake media file snares PC users

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.