As much of the world mourns the passing of Steve Jobs -- one of the technology industry's greatest visionaries -- the bottom feeders of the cyber crime world are greedily exploiting the tragedy through scams promising unwitting users a chance to win a free iPad.
Sophos has reported in its Naked Security blog on one such scam already circulating via Facebook that reads as follows: "In memory of Steve, a company is giving out 50 ipads tonight. R.I.P. Steve Jobs," followed by a tailored bit.ly link ending with "restinpeace-steve-jobs." Clicking the link takes users to one of countless malicious Web pages.
Image courtesy of Sophos Naked Security blog
In some instances, according to Sophos, users are taken to a page that inform them they are "today's winner," prompting them to select a prize (which, in at least some instances, includes an "iPad 2 Color") and enter personal information. In other instances, clicking on the bogus link might take a user to an online gambling site.
The pages the Sophos researchers visited tailored their payload based on the user's IP address; for example, clicking the link at a conference in Barcelona took one of the researchers to a page presented in Spanish. A researcher in Sydney ended up on Casino.com, "the best Aussie online casino."
At the time of writing, 15,000 users had clicked on the malicious link; more than 729 people had Liked it on Facebook.
A similar scam spreading on Facebook purports, "In memory of Steve Jobs, Apple has decided to give away 1000 limited edition iPad 2's [sic]." The URL here isn't shortened; rather, it takes a user to ipadgiftsforall.com, where visitors are prompted to share the page on Facebook and enter "RIP Steve" as a comment. (I can't tell at time of writing if this site has any kind of malicious payload. Thus far, it's been shared at least 1,000 times.)
The critical lesson here is that users need to remain vigilant and mindful of these types of scam. Avoid clicking and sharing links for offers that are seemingly too good to be true. Web addresses masked by URL-shortening services like bit.ly should also be a sign of something potentially fishy.
The fact that cyber scum is looking to exploit a tragedy like Jobs's passing is, unfortunately, neither new nor particularly surprising. Charlatans and thieves have engaged in this type of reprehensible behavior for ages. Unfortunately, the evolution of computer and Internet technology -- to which Jobs ironically contributed so much -- has made it far easier to propagate these types of schemes.
This story, "Scammers waste no time in exploiting Steve Jobs's death," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.