UPDATED: Promise of “killer whale attack video” leads to malware, viruses

Since the SeaWorld accident earlier this week that claimed the life of trainer Dawn Brancheau, searches have been prolific for “home video” of the deadly incident.

It’s inevitable in the case of high-profile incidents like this one that natural curiosity about unusual deaths will spark this kind morbid Googling. But as we’ve seen in the past, not only has the video not circulated (thankfully for the trainer’s family) but most promises to view the ghoulish footage merely result in malware attacks that could lead to nasty, pervasive viruses taking root on your hard drive. It’s not to say footage of Brancheau’s accidental death at the hands (fins?) of Tilikum the whale won’t eventually make it to the darker parts of the internet- many people were present for the attack and it’s likely some were filming the show before the incident.

So if you’re looking for the clip in question, be careful. A security consultant from Sophos explains the threat:

“It’s hard to believe that anyone would want to watch video footage of this horrible death, but it’s currently one of the very hottest search terms on the internet,” explained Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. “These poisoned pages can appear on the very first page of your search engine’s results, and if you visit the links you may see pop-up warnings telling you about security issues with your computer. These warnings are fake and designed to trick you into downloading dangerous software or handing over your credit card details.”

As of now, the footage hasn’t hit the internet, but malware is always available and those who promote it are always looking to exploit your web searches and install bad things on your computer. If you’re still curious, you can watch an interview with Dawn Brancheau on her work at SeaWorld here. It’s certainly unnerving to watch Brancheau discuss the dangers of training the whales, as well as her reverence for the dangerous animals.

Update: Tourist footage of the moments leading up to the attack can be seen here, and it is being aired by local news stations in Orlando.