Facebook scammers exploit death of Steve Jobs

Since we recently talked about social engineering in class, I think this post has a great deal to how people were socially engineered through Facebook, and ignorance.  PandaLabs, a popular internet security blog, recently found a Facebook page that was claiming to give away 50 free iPad 2’s in honor of Steve Jobs’ death.  The page gained five new fans every second and gained more than 90,000 fans since late yesterday.

As of approximately 8:00 AM PDT October 6th, the page has been disabled, but it’s unknown as to how many users’ PCs have become infected since more than 25,000 users clicked the link in less than eight hours.

Luis Corrons, technical director of PandaLabs said, “Unfortunately, as soon as we learned of Steve Jobs’ death, we knew scammers would start to figure out how to exploit it.  It is not unusual for cyber-crooks and fraudsters to take advantage of headline-grabbing events to spread their creations and affect the maximum number of victims possible in a short period of time.”

This security issue is primarily dealing with how any type of internet user, whether they are social media users, or general internet users, can be manipulated and persuaded easily.  Social engineering is a process, it’s the art of manipulating people into performing actions or divulging confidential information.  In this case, Facebook users were manipulated into getting free iPad’s, but without them knowing they were on their way into being spammed and taken to sites where users were prompted to fill out surveys for their “Free iPads.”

These scammers actually make a profit, as sick as that sounds.  They get money from the ads displayed every time someone follows the instructions.  The scammers profit when users click through those links, by earning commissions based on the amount of traffic they bring to the websites.  The formula is simple for profit:  more traffic = More income.

Social engineering is used by almost everyone for a purpose.  Whether this purpose is malicious, or helpful, it is scary to see that people can be manipulated because there’s a chance that they can “Gain an iPad” or “Click here for a free iPhone 5.”  The class discussion on social engineering could have included the Facebook scam of Steve Jobs, because users were tricked into clicking on the false advertisement of the iPad.  Unfortunately, these scammers can make a pretty penny for doing these kinds of manipulations and its terrible.

These types of scams are not rare, but on the contrary they are seen all over the internet.  Just this year with the death of Amy Winehouse, these scammers were on the prowl for internet suckers when they broadcasted on the internet a link for a shocking video of Amy Winehouse before she died.  Eventually, this video traveled to e-mail form, and when a user tries to open the attachment of the so called “shocking video” they were attacked by malware.




7 thoughts on “Facebook scammers exploit death of Steve Jobs

  1. There will always be people who exploit sacred things for others but it is sad that they use such unbelievable baits. Other than infecting computers do you know what else they have gained?

    • Money. When they generate more traffic for their Surveys and web pages, they generate more profit.

  2. Great blog post. I think social engineering is one of the most dangerous methods used to exploit users online. Since we are human beings and not always logical but rather emotional in our decision making, this becomes a great way to get users to do something like that.

    • people are so gullible. You can probably get them to do anything for a so called free iPad 2.

  3. I actually saw a friend share a link on facebook today saying that in honor of Job’s death they were giving out 1,000 ipads. In order to be entered into the drawing, you had to share the link and say “Thank you Steve from (insert your city here)”. The site was called apple.givingipads.com or something. I thought my friends would be smarter than that, but it just goes to show you that anyone can be social engineered.

  4. This is a great blog post, because it really shows how easily people are to believe something is true when it isn’t. I mean to me it is pretty obvious that the Apple Company isn’t going to randomly start giving away free Ipads just because of the death of Steve Jobs. Also, it just puts into perspective that there are are several people everyday that are probably going to fall a victim to social engineering, because they are just that gullible.

  5. This is not much different than scammers who use natural disasters (like Hurricane Katrina or the Japanese tsunami this year) to preface malware riddled emails to try to get people to click the link to “donate to the cause” and get infected instead. This is playing people of the opposite side of the spectrum – people who want free stuff rather than those who would donate to a cause.

    There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

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