Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Bad Actors

This story of a virus being distributed through Wikipedia is interesting, and disturbing. It highlights an inherent problem in all social media and user-generated content: while most people participate in a positive way, there are always some bad actors out there.  

Malicious hackers have turned to Wikipedia to try to help them catch out PC users.

The virus writers created a page on the German Wikipedia that linked to a fake fix for a new version of an old malicious Windows worm.

But instead of curing a bug, those installing the fix would be infected by a new Windows virus.

The booby-trapped page on the German version of the online encyclopaedia has now been removed.

"The very openness of websites like Wikipedia - which allow anyone to edit pages - makes them terrific, but can also make them less trustworthy," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "In this case, the article in question wasn't just misleading, it was downright malicious."

Whether it's somebody hijacking your social media platform for nefarious purposes, creating content that diminishes your brand, or some newly-dreamed-up way to cause trouble, it's going to keep happening. The story of interactive marketing has been one of marketers (and content creators in general) ceding control to their audiences. With lack of control comes the possibility of trouble.

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