As the Pacific Rim braces for deadly Tsunami’s spawned by today’s magnitude 8.9 earthquake in Japan, the SANS Internet Storm Center says users should be on the lookout for a different kind of Tsunami: scam e-mail and Web pages looking to turn curiosity about the events in Japan into illicit gain.
The Internet Storm Center (ISC) issued a warning on its Web page Friday morning warning reader to expect “emails (sp) scams and malware circulating regarding the recent Japanese earthquake.”Examples of Tsunami-related spam have already shown up in spam filters, according to the Web site spamwarnings.com.
Jumping on major and breaking news stories is a tried and true method to trick unsuspecting, curious or concerned Internet users into opening malicious attachments or clicking malicious links they might otherwise avoid. Scammers have become adept at using search engine optimization (SEO) strategies to place scam Web pages high in the search results of major search engines like Google, though the company has recently made changes to its search algorithm that weed out bogus pages and other kinds of low-value Web sites generated by so-called “content farms.”
A wave of spam followed the January, 2005 Tsunami in the Aceh Region of Indonesia. Those included numerous scams soliciting donations for “charities” for Tsunami victims that turned out to be fraudulent. The Internet Storm Center says that those who want to help should make donations to established organizations rather than those set up in response to a particular event. The IRS maintains a list of tax exempt charitable organizations that can be used to verify the status of charities that are soliciting donations.
News of the massive quake and ensuing Tsunami has prompted Google to set up an Online Crisis Center devoted to the disaster. That includes emergency numbers and links to the latest information on the disaster. Features for locating individuals in the affected region of Northern Japan are also provided.