Watch out for leprechaun viruses on St Patrick’s Day

You should be careful to keep mischievous leprechauns from infecting your computer and smartphone this St. Patrick’s Day. In fact, several scams and hacks in past years have been inspired by the holiday:

In 2011, at the height of Zynga FarmVille frenzy, some players were fooled by the ‘Leprechaun’s Cottage’ scam which appeared in their news feeds showing a golden harp and promising in-game gold. Players who clicked on the link ended up merely spamming all of their Facebook friends with the same scam.

The first known virus written in Ireland’s native language, Gaelic, was a ransomware scam called Gaelige. It struck in September of 2012. The ransomware told infected users that the victim’s computer was used to view illegal pornography, and it would put their computer into a fictitious ‘shut down mode’ until a fine was paid.

Leprechaun.exe is an unfortunately-named executable file that is arguably either a Trojan program used for stealing passwords and bank information, or a legitimate program (but prone to causing DLL errors) that attracted dozens of fake antivirus programs to help victims remove it – and unknowingly download more malware in the process.

"In many ways, the mischievous leprechaun epitomizes the traits of the malevolent hacker. These scams might appear silly, but people fell for them and were victimized," said Sorin Mustaca, IT security expert at Avira.

"Computer users should be aware that major events like holidays and natural catastrophes tend to spur Internet scam artists into action to prey on people who let down their guard. Use antivirus software, along with a dose of common sense, and you’ll be fine."

 

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