Update: Santa's Web site hacked

Santaslink.net is now said to be distributing malware

With Christmas fast approaching, Santa Claus reached out for a little help from Stopbadware.org this week.

The consumer advocacy group said it was approached by an Incline Village, Nevada, man who has legally changed his name to Santa Claus, who asked them to help figure out why his Web site was being flagged by Google Inc.'s Web site filters.

It turned out that Santa's Web site, Santaslink.net had been hacked.

On Friday, the Web site was still downloading malicious software, according to Roger Thompson, chief technology officer with Exploit Prevention Labs Inc. It exploits a bug in Internet Explorer that Microsoft Corp. patched last August, meaning that people running older versions of the browser could be at risk, Thompson said.

"The site is hacked," he said. "If you are not patched, it uses an exploit to silently install a huge amount of adware and spyware."

Claus is a children's advocate who has travelled across the U.S. meeting with legislators, according to his Web site. He also makes seasonal appearances as the jolly old elf.

"He had consulted local experts, which we can only assume were elves, but they were unable to identify anything wrong with his site," wrote StopBadware.org Developer Jason Callina, in a Thursday blog posting.

"Nestled all snug in the bottom of his homepage was a nice little bit of code containing a badware link," he added.

The original problem was soon resolved by Stopbadware.org, but on Friday malware had again cropped up on the Web site.

Stopbadware.org was founded earlier this year, with funding from Google Inc., Lenovo Group Ltd. and Sun Microsystems Inc. as a community watchdog organization to help protect consumers from malicious software like spyware and viruses.

Callina said he's learned something from the Santa Claus experience.

"The moral of the story is that the Grinches who are looking to spread their unsafe software are willing to hack even Santa’s Web site."