With the internet abuzz with stories related to Osama bin Laden’s death, the FBI is warning people not to open unsolicited links that “purport” to show photos or videos of the al-Qaeda leader’s killing, saying these could be computer virus.
Asking computer users to exercise caution, the FBI said people should not open unsolicited spam e-mails that claim to show photos or download software to view videos of bin Laden’s death, even if the messages are from people they know as these applications can infect computers and could be viruses programmed to steal personally identifiable information.
Such “content could be a virus that could damage your computer. This malicious software or malware can embed itself in computers and spread to users’ contact lists, thereby infecting the systems of associates, friends, and family members,” the FBI said in a statement.
The Internet Crime Complaint Center urged computer users not to open spam mails, including by clicking links contained within those messages. “The public should exercise due diligence.”
Links claiming to show footage of bin Laden being killed by US troops and photos of the dead terrorist are already doing rounds on popular social networking sites like Facebook.
Some links on Facebook claim that “exclusive footage” that will “leave you speechless” has been leaked by “Wikileaks” and organisations like “CNN”, playing on users’ curiosity to see the world’s most wanted terrorist in his last moments.
Once a user clicks on the link, it is automatically pasted on the walls of all his contacts.
The FBI further asked computer owners to ensure they have up-to-date anti-virus software to detect and deflect malicious software, and to keep an eye for fraudulent messages that often feature misspellings, poor grammar and nonstandard English.
The agency also asked users to adjust the privacy settings on social networking sites to make it more difficult for people to post content to their page.
A photograph, released on the internet hours after U.S. President Barack Obama announced to the world that bin Laden was dead, showed a brutally injured bin Laden with his eye gouged.
That photo had turned out to be a fake.
“Even a friend can unknowingly pass on multimedia that’s actually malicious software,” the agency said, adding that criminals may also use the FBI’s name and seal to add legitimacy to their fraudulent schemes.