The MySpace pages for singer Alicia Keys and other musicians were hacked with a seemingly new type of hack, a security expert said Thursday.
Keys' MySpace page and that of others, including a Scottish band and a French band, were flagged by users of Exploit Prevention Labs' LinkScanner software, which blocks pages containing malicious code. The discovery came after users began reporting that Keys' page was blocked, according to Roger Thompson, chief technology officer of LinkScanner.com.
"When we saw it was MySpace and Alicia Keys, we took a good look at it," he said in an interview.
When a visitor views the page, an exploit first attempts to install malware on the visitor's computer if it is not properly patched. Thompson said he was not sure yet which flaw the malware was looking to exploit. If that is not successful, the user is then asked to install a fake codec to view a video. Thompson explains the process in this video.
If both of those should fail, the user is also vulnerable if he or she clicks anywhere on the page that is not a legitimate link -- including the ads. "If your mouse slips a bit from what you meant to click, you get the background [link]," which references a site based in China, co8vd.cn, and also attempts to install malicious code. Thompson said he had not seen that kind of " image-background link " before.
The domain is registered to Xiamen Hua Shang Sheng Shi Network Co., in the coastal city of Xiamen in Fujian province, according to the China Internet Network Information Centre's WHOIS listing. The company could not immediately be contacted for comment.
Because the attack affected several different pages, including one of a high-profile figure like Keys, Thompson believes this is a hack of MySpace, and not a case of attackers simply uncovering the user names and passwords for those pages.
MySpace said it had already taken care of the problem.
"Individuals who try to phish our members are violating the law and are not welcome on MySpace. We have blocked and removed the source of this phishing attempt and restored the profile," a MySpace spokesperson said by e-mail. Thompson confirmed that the Keys page was now clean, but added, "We'll see what happens over the next few days."
The hackers success with Keys' page, which Thompson described as "lucky," couldn't come at a better time for them -- or worse for the musician. Keys, a Grammy Award-winning singer with several platinum albums, will put out her latest release, "As I Am," on Nov. 13.