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Cybercriminals exploit global tragedies

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Security firm Kaspersky Lab has warned users that cybercriminals don’t care about morals and ethics and that they will, in fact, exploit global tragedies as much as they can.

Following the recent natural disaster of the horrific earthquake and Tsunami in Japan, where tens of thousands of people in the country have lost their homes, and many their loved ones too, Kaspersky Lab has detected numerous malicious spam campaigns by cybercriminals, using news around this event to infect numerous users with emails containing malicious URLs.
Nicolas Brulez, senior malware researcher, France, Global Research & Analysis Team at Kaspersky Lab says: “Despite the tragedy associated with such natural disasters, hackers thrive on these types of events for cybercriminal activity for their own financial gain, and this is something to be fully aware of, as most read news and click on links to find out more about a certain situation.”
In fact, following the recent death of famous actress Elizabeth Taylor, a sensitive topic, Kaspersky Lab identified social engineering scams on Twitter. Being a newsworthy topic, people from 48 different countries clicked on the malicious link (unaware of its dangerous intent).
“While these are only results from two very tragic incidents, globally we have already seen numerous natural disasters occur in 2011 – all of which serve as an ideal platform for cybercriminals to exploit Internet users, and social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook are only making this task much easier for the scammer,” adds Brulez.
Looking back at the bombings in Moscow in early 2010, criminals used Twitter to create fake profiles, spreading false news about the subject, all of which lead to malware, he says. Upon investigation into these Twitter profiles, Kaspersky Lab discovered that these profiles had numerous legitimate followers, meaning that people/users did not suspect the news was fake and as a result, would have been infected.
Considering this, Kaspersky Lab stresses the importance of undertaking effective IT security measures to ensure that one does not fall victim to such scammer activity. It is crucial to effectively update ones computer; a task which is often overlooked yet can be detrimental. Furthermore, for those using social networking sites, implement the necessary privacy settings as this will go a long way in ensuring that information is secure.
“Past experience tells us that cybercriminals are always trying to make profit out of natural disasters or big news in general. When wanting to obtain the latest news on such events, we strongly recommend that you browse legitimate news sites and never follow links received by email, or on social networks. It’s very important to keep your system up to date, be it the operating system or third party applications such as Java, PDF readers, Browsers etc. Finally, always keep your security solutions up to date,” concludes Brulez.