12 November 2013
The human tragedy taking place in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines is bad enough without having other, less obvious consequences for people in the UK and other countries. Natural catastrophes such as this always present heartless criminals with an ideal opportunity to release a wave of scams and malware related to the storm – appealing to people's genuine good nature.
Visitors to getsafeonlne.org are being warned to be on their guard against emails, websites, Facebook posts and tweets claiming either to have exclusive video or pleading for donations for disaster relief efforts.
Some such messages will include malicious code designed to infect computers with viruses, spyware, or Trojan horses.
Others will be fraudulent appeals for charitable donations. After hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, the FBI, Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission had to form a task force to battle the massive volume of scams that accompanied them. The American Red Cross reported at least 15 fake websites impersonating legitimate Red Cross appeals for donations to relief efforts. These were actually phishing attacks, directing users to a malicious server that collected credit card numbers, PayPal passwords and other personal information.
If you decide to donate to Typhoon Haiyan relief, make sure you do so directly to reputable charitable organisations. Make sure you know the charity's physical address and phone number. And do not respond to any unsolicited emails.