The death of Osama bin Laden is undeniably one of the biggest stories of the last decade. Oregon Attorney General John Kroger, however, cautions Oregonians to be careful when searching the internet for footage or news about bin Laden’s death. As seen with the Japan earthquake and tsunami, cybercriminals exploit top stories by creating fake videos, photos, Google ads, and news reports that contain malware and viruses.
Already some highly trafficked blogs have been infiltrated by cybercriminals. For instance, a man who lived near bin Laden’s compound inadvertently “tweeted” the raid. People flocked to his website to read his account of events. Unfortunately, so did cyberthieves and his blog was compromised. Those who visited his site are likely to have unknowingly downloaded viruses or malware onto their computers.
On Facebook there is fake video footage of bin Laden’s death. When opened, the link exposes the user’s personal information to the cybercriminal and downloads malware onto the user’s computer.
Attorney General Kroger offers the following advice to avoid falling victim to cyber-scams:
Be cautious of links from emails, social networking sites, or Google searches. If the URL and the search topic don’t relate in some obvious way it’s best to avoid it.Pop-up ads related to popular internet searches commonly carry malware. Do not be enticed by fake offers of “free” stuff, surveys or contests. Never provide personal information through pop-up ads. If a website redirects you to download software or “codec” in order to view a video, stop. These are signs of a scam. Make sure your computer has up to date anti-virus software. Perform a virus scan on a regular basis.
Scammers and identity thieves pose a significant threat to Oregon consumers. Last year Oregonians reported losing nearly $2 million to scams. The Oregon Department of Justice is committed to protecting Oregon consumers. Anyone who thinks they may have been contacted by a scammer should call the Oregon Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-877-877-9392 or go to www.oregonattorneygeneral.gov.