Osama bin Laden’s death is sparking a series of cyber scams, particularly on Facebook, where evil-doers take advantage of trusting friends.
Cyber-scammers have been setting online traps for people searching about bin Laden just hours after news hit that the terrorist had been killed. Top search bin Laden results have been redirecting people to pages with malware.
“People searching on Google need to keep in mind that the Web is still a wild place,” said Kurt Baumgartner, senior security researcher for security firm, Kaspersky Labs.
Google Images is laced with “Osama bin Laden” photo searches, redirecting unsuspecting visitors to malicious websites ready to infect their computers. In one particularly vile maneuver, a nasty scam convinces users their device is already infected with a virus. It then asks for payment to remove the fake anti-virus software — a double threat of trickery.
Facebook is spreading the scams as well, using friend lists. For example, a fake BBC link promising live video is luring users to post the link to their Facebook account, adding to its exposure and credibility.
When Facebook users “like” ads, they expose their contacts to cyber-criminals, help them collect e-mail and other valuable information, according to Sophos security firm. They even pay criminals with each future click.
Avoiding scams boils down to awareness of the hallmarks of hackers. Along with promises of lewd or shocking content, many scams advertise a voyeuristic opportunity to see who likes or doesn’t like the intended victim, and “see who viewed your profile!”
No official photos or videos of bin Laden’s body have been released, so news to the contrary should trigger skepticism.
The terrorist’s death is not the only news to be exploited. Scammers recently used Twilight’s Edward Cullen in a similar scheme on Facebook.
Earlier this month, Twitter followers were also treated to a spam blast, exposing them to survey requests from unscrupulous marketing firms.