To no surprise, especially in the world of security, cyber criminals have already begun abusing the death of Robin Williams for financial gain.
Within 48 hours of the tragic death of actor and comedian, Robin Williams, scammers have begun playing on the sympathy of millions of Facebook users around the world. The current scam in circulation on the social network is an alleged goodbye video Williams made before ending his own life, Symantec reported.
The alleged video is non-existent. The scammers upload a picture that appears to be a BBC news report and has a small play icon in the center appearing as an embedded video. Upon clicking, users are directed away from Facebook and forced to share the video on their personal Facebook page before they can view the alleged content Williams left behind.
Once directed away from Facebook and told to share the content, once users actually click share, users a prompted with a dialog box that states the piece of content has received well over 25 million shares, it must be safe right…, but actually, scammers leveraged Facebook’s Open Graph metadata to trick what users see.
To no surprise, once shared, users will not be shown the video, but instead be forced to install a browser plugin or program on their computer or alternatively fill out a survey. Surveys provide financial gain to cyber criminals as users will be coaxed into buying a product, viewing advertisements, or something similar gaining them money.
If users install a program, they may install a Trojan that may harvest sensitive credentials such as banking information, it may commit advertisement fraud, or induce them into a botnet where the scammers can abuse the computer for their own gain.
This is again no shock to anyone involved in the security community or aware of how cyber criminals abuse recent events. Last month, scammers were caught abusing the MH17 explosion only minutes after it happened. Again, coaxing users into completing nefarious activities on behalf of the scammer.
General precautions to take
With nearly any hot news topic, it will be most always be abused in any way for finical gain. These scams may seem obvious, but browsing across the internet you may click a link unknowingly and within seconds be infected by some form of malware or be abused by a scammer. Precautions to avoid succumbing to scammers:
- DO NOT: Install any ‘additional plugins’, install any programs, complete a survey to view gated content, or complete any forced activity that requires you to view the content
- Beware of any links regarding hot news topics, especially on social media
- DO: A quick search via a search engine such as ‘Robin Williams Goodbye Video’, if the content is real, BBC would pop up. With this current scam, you will get a trove of news sources reporting on this current scam, as we currently are.
- Visit trusted news sources for information regarding recent events instead of clicking links straight away
- Recommended: Use a browser plugins such as NoScript to avoid websites from trying to execute malicious code on your browser
Always beware of links regarding hot news topics, they may lead to a potential scam. May Mr. Robin Williams rest in peace.
Picture credit: wikipedia.org