The death of Osama bin Laden has gone viral with blogs, social media and search engines pumping terabytes of rumour, innuendo and conspiracy theories at the speed of light, along with the occasional kilobyte of truth.
That was the state of global malware map following the death of Osama bin Laden, while Nigerian letters involving Libya was yet another top scam to target innocent South African internet users.
As the number of South Africans searching for pictures and videos of Bin Laden's execution skyrocketed, the criminal syndicates which perform "black hat" search engine optimisation have exploded as well. The result is a great number of malware-laden sites tricked out to perform tricks to get them returned as the first results in search engine results.
"While such criminal activities have become the norm, are highly automated and otherwise not worthy of interest, the sheer amount of search activity has unleashed a tidal wave of scams and malware," says Carey van Vlaanderen, CEO of ESET Southern Africa.
"Global malware thrives on the demise of a global terrorist and ESET is also registering a similar upsurge on Facebook. It’s easy to see why: with moer than 500-million active users, Facebook would rank just behind China and India as the third-most populated country in the world, if it happened to be a country," adds van Vlaanderen.
The Libyan war has also provided ample inspiration for cyber-criminals in the last few weeks. ESET researchers are reporting upsurge in Nigerian letter scams which cost gullible PC users billions of dollars every year. Recently a model Nigerian letter appeared, using the Libyan crisis as bait and "government funds" as a hook.
According to 419hell.com website which explores these types of cyber-threats, someone falls for this type of scam every 44 seconds.
"South Africans must always be sure of the identity of the sender or the instant messenger, or the content of the Facebook message. It is up to the individual to ensure that they are protected against any virus attacks by installing antivirus software equipped to detect and block malware before they compromise social networking sites like Facebook," says van Vlaanderen.