Cyber-criminals are taking full advantage of the news of Osama bin Laden's death, prompting the FBI to warn computer users not to fall prey to unsolicited emails and social network posts claiming to show photos or videos of him being killed.
Opening up spam emails or posts on social networking sites such as Facebook may cause users' computers to be infected with a virus or their personal identification information to be stolen. The FBI has advised people to tighten their privacy settings on social networking sites to make it more difficult for people they don't know to post material on their pages.
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Many of the scams around are enticing curious internet users with a fake picture of a dead Osama bin Laden (seen above). The bloodied image of the corpse is actually a composite of two images one is a real picture of Bin Laden captured by Reuters in 1998.
David Marcus, director of security research at McAfee Labs has published a range of examples of the scams on his blog, and warned users to remain vigilant. One version, appearing on Facebook, asks users to copy and paste a script into their browser to see a video of bin Laden's death.
"It certainly DOES NOT lead to the promised video because there is no released video! What it does do is spam your wall with messages trying to get people to do the same thing. Do not be fooled," Mr Marcus wrote.
Other links lead to the tried-and-tested "your computer is infected with spam, we'll clean it for $100" websites. Needless to say, they're not offering up anything new either.
Some examples of the promises these scams are making to trick people into opening the links are listed below:
- See video in which Osama bin Laden is shown holding a newspaper with today's date and disprove his possible death reported by OBAMA" (a purported link to a video supposedly disproving bin Laden's death).
- "OSAMA-BIN-Laden-aparece-segurando-jornal-com-a-data-de-hoje-obama-se-passa-por-mentiroso.exe" (a malicious executable purporting to offer photos of bin Laden holding today's paper – please see spam image attached).
- "fotos-do-osama-morto.exe" (a malicious executable purporting to offer photos of a dead bin Laden).
- "pictures-of-osama-dead.exe" (a malicious executable purporting to offer photos of a dead bin Laden)
McAfee said people should also look out for messages claiming to offer photos of bin Laden's body, funeral at sea or any other details.
In addition, Fabio Assolini, a researcher at security firm Kaspersky Lab, said that scammers were also turning to Google, poisoning search results in Google Images with links leading to malicious pages.
Why you should take it seriously.