It didn't take long. As with all global and media-saturated events these days, the tragedy in Haiti has been exploited by cyber criminals for all its worth.
First the 419 scammers. According to a new blog posting by Symantec Hosted Service, aka MessageLabs, the classic advance fee fraud scammers are exploiting the news to part well-meaners with their cash, sending emails purporting to be from charities such as the British Red Cross, requesting donations.
"Exploiting tragic world events for personal gain unfortunately seems perfectly acceptable for some cyber criminals, and the Haiti Earthquake 419 advance fee fraud example highlights that there are no boundaries on what they'll attempt to profit from," wrote malware data analyst, Matt Nisbet.
"The public needs to be aware of such scams so that they can be more vigilant when visiting donation websites, ensuring vital donations arrive at the intended locations, rather than lining the scammers pockets."
The other main strategy taken by the cyber-criminals has been blackhat SEO-ing, or SEO poisoning. This is when the crims piggy-back upon a news story of widespread interest to promote their own malicious sites into the top of the search rankings, by cramming the sites full of keywords. F-Secure and Websense both warned users to ensure their AV tools are kept up-to-date and they have real-time content scanning capabilities.
"Websense Security Labs ThreatSeeker Network has discovered that searches on terms related to the recent earthquake in Haiti return results leading to a rogue antivirus program," read a posting on the Websense Security Labs blog.
"Unfortunately, the bad guys use major crises and events like this to spread their malicious code."
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