Shameless Online Scammers Exploit Japan Quake

We're continually surprised at how low online scammers will go to make a quick buck. We suppose we shouldn't be; after all, these folks are some of the scum of the earth, and if you need any more proof of that, just take a look at how they're exploiting the devastating earthquake in Japan.

According to security firm McAfee, within hours after the quake hit, unscrupulous cyber criminals had begun designing online scams with the intention of preying on people's good will. One such scam involves sending out fake "donate" emails that appear to come from legitimate organizations, when in fact they really link to sites setup to steal your credit card information and other personal details.

If you plan to donate to Japan's earthquake relief efforts, be sure to visit sites like the Red Cross directly rather than click on links in email.

Other tricks include malicious videos and images. As you're searching the Internet for news and updates on the quake and subsequent fallout, there's a chance you could run into a link that downloads malware to your machine. And of course there's the social media attacks that involve posting donation requests and links to malware on social networking sites.

McAfee says there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. For one, don't respond to a donation request that arrives in your inbox or via instant message. Instead, go directly to a reputed agency like the Red Cross by manually inputting the URL into your browser. Be suspicious of any links that promise "dramatic video" or images, and keep in mind that anyone can register a .org address,.