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Published: Wednesday, 5/4/2011

Bin Laden's death gives cybercrime an opening

Messages, e-mails damage computers


CHICAGO -- Security experts are warning Web-surfing consumers about a rise in cybercrime and scams related to Osama bin Laden's death.

Major news events are often accompanied by an uptick in cybercrime, with perpetrators trying to take advantage of Web searches for content such as pictures and videos.

"I suppose this was just inevitable," Dave Marcus, director of security research for McAfee Labs, wrote in a blog post. "The reported death of Osama bin Laden is just too good a lure for cybercriminals and scammers to pass up."

Mr. Marcus said e-mails are circulating with links purporting to lead to photos of bin Laden's corpse. One message teases to a video showing bin Laden disproving his death by holding a newspaper with Monday's date. Clicking on the links generally opens files that install malware on the user's computer. In other cases, cybercriminals have poisoned Google Images results.

Facebook is also a breeding ground for scams, with malicious links being circulated on posts and messages. Researchers at Kaspersky Labs said they noticed scam ads on Facebook promising free merchandise in celebration of bin Laden's death. Users who click on the ads will be redirected multiple times, with each layer asking for more detailed personal information, Kaspersky Labs said.

Experts at Websense said cybercriminals compromised the Web site of Sohaib Athar, the Pakistani who used his Twitter feed to provide a real-time account of the U.S. operation to kill bin Laden.

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