Internet users have been keeping tabs on the tragic events in Boston, and so have hackers and spammers. If you've received unsolicited emails about the Boston bombing in the last couple days, odds are that you've been the target of a malware attack or charity scam.
Here are some ways to identify these threats and protect yourself.
The Malware Threat
Within hours of the Boston Marathon bombings, scammers were hard at work, reports TechNewsDaily. They created email spam messages that contained heading keywords like "Boston" or "Explosion" and invited users to click their links to see pictures and videos, according to the website HotForSecurity.
Clicking on those links can lead to seemingly innocuous pages with videos of the Boston Marathon -- but in the background, your computer may be infected by a Trojan horse virus.
There are three things you can do to protect yourself from malware:
Some of these suspicious emails will contain links to charitable organizations claiming to be portals for donating money or pledging support. Once these links are clicked, you'll be taken to a website where you can input your credit card information, address, name, phone number and other valuable personal data.
Identity thieves will then use this information to access your bank accounts, credit cards, and financial information.
If you feel you've been the victim of a charity scam or worry that a link is untrustworthy, you can:
Contact the Better Business Bureau. This organization can help you to report any "charity" you think is fraudulent and can educate you on avoiding scams in the future.
Contact the consumer protection agency in your state. These agencies can investigate any complaints about money lost or information taken by a charity scam and inform you of your rights as a consumer.
Be skeptical and ask questions. If you haven't heard of an organization before and don't feel comfortable giving them your information, then don't. Even if you donate through a trusted charity, do it from their main website and not through a link in your email or on Facebook.