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News

Cybercriminals exploit Haiti earthquake by targeting charitable generosity

Symantec : 18 January, 2010  (Technical Article)
An increase in spam has been registered along with malicious websites seeking to extract cash from people willing to make donations to charities delivering aid to Haiti
People donating to charities such as the Red Cross to help those affected by the Haiti earthquake should take care that their money doesn't fall into the hands of cybercriminals, as Symantec has observed a huge upturn in spam and poison search results designed to exploit individuals' generosity.

Symantec has published more information on its blog with examples of the '419' advance fee scams, spam emails soliciting donations and poison search results that can infect computers with malware on its blog to help people ensure their money will go to help the Haitians rather than line criminals' pockets.

Mathew Nisbet, Malware Data Analyst, Symantec Hosted Services said on the blog: "The humanitarian crisis caused by the Haitian earthquake has captured the world's sympathies and people are flocking to donate online. Sadly these are exactly the conditions that a cynical scammer would be looking to exploit, as the desire to help can often cloud a person's good judgement. They count on the public's good nature, concern, and desire to help, and hope that they won't see through the scam email which they are reading."

Symantec Security experts urge computer users to follow best practices to help stay safe online, and ensure donations and support reach the victims of this catastrophe and not the scammers. These include:

* Avoid clicking on suspicious links in email or IM messages as these may be links to spoofed Web sites. Symantec security experts suggest typing Web addresses, such as those from a charitable organisation, directly into the browser rather than clicking on links within messages.

* Never fill out forms in messages that ask for personal or financial information or passwords. A reputable charitable organisation is unlikely to ask for your personal details via e-mail. When in doubt, contact the organisation in question via an independent, trusted mechanism, such as a verified telephone number, or a known Internet address that you type into a new browser window (do not click or cut and paste from a link in the message).
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