One could definitely argue that the recent death of Osama Bin Laden is one of the most significant events in history. As far as this year is concerned, it's undoubtedly the headliner. As is the case with most popular topics, Bin Laden's death became the focus of internet scam artists who used the event as an avenue to affect as many web surfers as possible. Google Trends showed that Osama bin laden dead topped Google's search charts in the United States in terms of popularity on the day following his death. It did not take long for the scammers presence to be felt either, as their footprints were found on Facebook, in internet searches, and other virtual locales just hours after President Barack Obama announced the al-Qaeda leader's fate on May 1st.
Perhaps the most creative avenue used by online scammers was the blog site of a Twitter user who had an audio play-by-play of the attack on Bin Laden's compound in Pakistan. The user posted various tweets during the raid, but he did not know the true significance of the events that were occurring near his home until after the fact. His story gained in popularity, which resulted in a follower count of over 66,000 people. According to security firm Websense, hackers saw this popularity as a perfect target and embedded malware on his blog site. The malware searched for any holes in Adobe Reader, Internet Explorer, and Java, and would display a “Windows Recover” popup in the event that a hole was detected. Windows Recover is scareware that entices users to pay for unnecessary software to remove so-called viruses. The blog site was quickly restored to a clean state, but not after some visitors were affected.
As expected, the news of Bin Laden's death enticed many internet users to search for graphic pictures as proof. According to Kaspersky Lab, scammers used this morbid curiosity to their advantage by fake antivirus software on domains showing up in Google image search results in Spanish for “Osama bin Laden body.”
The popularity of Facebook made it another avenue of choice for Obama-related scams. Phony messages made the rounds that included promotions from Subway and Southwest Airlines. Kaspersky reported that the messages promised free sandwiches or tickets as a way to celebrate Bin Laden's death and included a link to a shortened URL service. If the user clicks on the link, they were then asked to post a message for further information on the promotion, which actually just helps the scam's creators extend their reach. This is followed by several redirects asking for information such as email addresses.
One of the more serious scams trying to capitalize off the Osama news deals with online banking. F-Secure detected spam emails promising photos of a dead Bin Laden contain Trojans that have the capability to monitor online banking sessions and withdraw funds.
To protect yourself from such scams as those listed, you should ensure that you are running updated antivirus software. Your browser and other internet related programs should have the latest patches as well. Avoid clicking on links promising photos or videos that show up in emails or on Facebook. Instead, rely on trusted news sources for your information.
For more on this topic, visit http://news.cnet.com/8301-27080_3-20058871-245.html?tag=mncol;title
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