YouTube Hacked; Experts Recommend Malware Scan

Dennis Faas's picture

Over the weekend, Google admitted its enormously popular video site YouTube had been hacked. By Sunday morning the search giant had fixed the problem, which included raunchy pop-up messages and link redirections to explicit websites.

The flaw involved hackers exploiting a cross-site scripting weakness that allowed them to insert their own programming code into YouTube's comments section. Rather amusingly, the hackers focused their attention on Justin Bieber clips (amongst others), with many of his music videos affected. Bieber appeared on an NBC Fourth of July TV special Sunday, so it's likely hackers thought they'd pester more people by concentrating attention on his fans. (Source:

Security Experts Concerned

Google says the hack didn't involve the exploitation of any YouTube member accounts, including those persons who were affected by the pop-up messages or the redirection campaign. Still, Google is encouraging people to log out of their accounts and then log back in, just to ensure nothing has been disturbed.

While Google says the hack didn't involve malware, security experts say that if someone did experience a redirection to a nefarious site, it is possible they picked up malware doing it. Websites that contain explicit content are notorious for computer infections simply by visiting such sites, and it's important that anyone who inadvertently visited one of those sites perform a full system scan using antivirus and antimalware programs. (Source:

Google Patches Security Hole

As for effects to YouTube, Google was forced to shut down its comments feature for a time while the attack was investigated.

"Comments were temporarily hidden by default within an hour [of discovering the problem], and we released a complete fix for the issue in about two hours," the company reported. "We're continuing to study the vulnerability to help prevent similar issues in the future."

It's entirely possible this most recent attack is evidence of things to come for YouTube. In May 2010, statistics show 14.6 billion video clips were viewed on the site in the United States alone.

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