Online miscreants took to Facebook about an hour after Apple announced that Jobs died, attempting to earn commissions by luring users into clicking on affiliate scam links with the promise of a free iPad, Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at anti-virus firm Sophos, told SCMagazineUS.com on Thursday. The scammers claimed that “In memory of Steve, a company is giving out 50 ipads tonight. R.I.P. Steve Jobs,” and included a link. In reality, no iPads were being given out and the scammers made money each time the link was clicked for their efforts to drive traffic to the sites.
“The thing that struck me was the speed in which they initiated the scam after the announcement was made,” Cluley said. “It was sadly predictable that there would be [scams], but it never fails to surprise me just how quick they are.”
The affiliate link, which was shortened using bit.ly, was clicked more than 15,000 times, Cluley said. Sophos has alerted bit.ly about the issue and asked them to shut down the link.
Links to affiliate scams have also showed up near the top of search engine results for queries related to Jobs, Charles Renert, senior director of security research at Websense, told SCMagazineUS.com on Thursday.
“We have seen a few examples of social engineering and phishing attacks that try to use the very popular event of Jobs' death to draw traffic to certain sites, as well as to obtain email addresses and other bits of information,” Renert said.
And other potentially more malicious scams and attacks are likely to follow, experts have warned.
Cybercriminals may set up fake charity sites associated with Jobs and aim to steal users' credit card numbers, Cluley said. Attackers will also likely try to lure users into installing malware by offering supposed videos or other content related to Apple's late founder. Similar attacks occurred following the deadly tsunami in Japan this March and the death of singer Amy Winehouse.
“Whenever there is a big news story, the scammers think 'here's an opportunity for us to make some cash,'” Cluley said. “Generally, just be very careful and sensible about what you click on.”