Category Archives: Haiti Earthquake

Japan Disaster: Commentary & Resources

[Further links added March 13th 2011 (and a couple more on the same day). Extra links and commentary appended March 14th. More commentary re the Bing chaintweet subsequently added. And yet more  on related scams added March 15th. More miscellaneous resources and commentary on 16th and 17th March. Additional links on 23rd March]

This is an attempt to bring together a number of disparate blogs highlighting resources I’ve been collecting over the past couple of days, relating to the Japanese earthquakes and tsunami. Apologies if there’s nothing here that’s new to you, but I think it’s important to spread this information as far as possible. This will now be my primary resource for putting up any further information I come across. I don’t, of course, claim that it will cover a fraction of the coverage that’s out there.

  • Some blogs of mine:
  • And one more that I’ve referenced below…
  • Urban Schrott of ESET Ireland on do’s and don’t’s for safe browsing and disaster scam avoidance:
  • Paul Ducklin at Sophos on clickjacking by
  • Norman Ingal at Trend with some detail on observed BHSEO and fake AV: 
  • Robert Slade at Securiteam with an older post (from the time of the Haiti earthquake – but still relevant) on training for disaster:
  • More analysis from Kimberley at
  • Paul Roberts at Threat Post:
  • Guy Bruneau at Internet Storm Center:
  • Sean at F-Secure: 
  • Mike Lennon at Security Week:
  • is showing examples of spam related to this event: 
  • IRS online charities search:
  • Charity Navigator offers independent evaluation of charities:
  • Google’s crisis response page:
  • An old but much-to-the-point article on disaster scams from PC World:
  • Phil Muncaster:
  • Google’s People Finder service:
  • Bing’s response page including several organizations offering relief initiatives: A useful page, but there’s an aspect to Bing’s retweeting PR effort (see that I can’t quite like, as explained at
  • US-CERT: Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Disaster Email Scams, Fake Anitvirus and Phishing Attack Warning [Yes, the Anitvirus typo is on the web site: some useful links, nonetheless] 
  • Latest news from NHK World: 
  • Graham Cluley: Japanese Tsunami RAW Tidal Wave Footage – Facebook scammers trick users with bogus CNN video
  • Morgsatlarge on Why I am not worried about Japan’s nuclear reactors
  • Real photos of the damage (hat tip to Rob Slade:; Not exactly security-related, but the sort of thing that’s being used to decoy people onto unsafe sites.
  • One from the Register that I missed at the time, though it’s basically a pointer to the Trend article above:
  • World Nuclear News: Battle to stabilise earthquake reactors
  • Lester Haines for The Register: Threat to third Fukushima nuke reactor: Authorities using seawater to battle overheating
  • Apparently I wasn’t the only person upset at Microsoft’s use of the disaster to promote Bing: BingDings* Force Change of Tune.
  • Here’s another clickjack scam brought to my attention by Graham Cluley: as he rightly says, it’s not likely to be the last. Japanese Tsunami Launches Whale Into Building? It’s a Facebook clickjack scam 
  • While Lewis Page describes in The Register how the Fukushima plant is actually performing “magnificently”, given the unexpected scale of the stress to which Japanese nuclear facilities have been subjected in the past few days: Even if you’re not totally convinced that this is an argument for more nuclear powerplants, it’s certainly a welcome corrective to the FUD-exploiting scareware SEO that I suspect we’ll see over the next few days.
  • Graham Cluley on an SMS hoax: Fukushima radiation hoax SMS message spreads in Philippines (clue: it’s the hoax that’s spreading, not radiation…)
  • Nuclear Energy Institute: Information on the Japanese Earthquake and Reactors in That Region
  • Lester Haines: Fukushima reactor core battle continues: May be heading for meltdown, but no Chernobyl likely
  • Stan Schroeder for Mashable: AT&T, Verizon offer free calls and texts to Japan from US 
  • Ben Parr for Mashable:  Japan Earthquake & Tsunami: 7 Simple Ways to Help
  • Technet Blog: Microsoft Supports Relief Efforts in Japan
  • summary: Current Situation in Japan
  • Christopher Boyd, GFI Labs: Another “Whale smashes into building” Tsunami scam on Facebook 
  • Allan Dyer has mentioned that SMS “BBC FLASHNEWS” hoaxes like the one Sophos flagged at have also been circulating in Hong Kong.
  • Urban Schrott with some more scam info from Facecrook and elsewhere
  • Sophos on tsunami charity scams
  • Lots more links suggesting that radiation risk is way overblown, but I think we have enough of those to get the gist. Just be sceptical about alarmist reports that you can’t verify from reputable sites.
  • Business Standard on Cybercrime sets sail on tsunami sympathy
  • Symantec on Phishers Have No Mercy for Japan describing a fake American Red Cross donation site.
  • I’m also seeing a number of posts and articles suggesting that the situation regarding affected nuclear facilities is getting worse: I’m not qualified to separate fact and fiction in many of these cases, so I won’t try to track them here.
  • Allan Dyer describes one of the SMS hoaxes and a donation scam message pretending to be from AT&T:
  • Graham Cluley describes several Japan-related video links that actually lead to malicious javascript and a Java applet, plus some fake twitter email notifications: Spammed-out Japanese Tsunami video links lead to malware attack. See also Chet Wisniewski’s post SSCC 52 – Twitter HTTPS, net neutrality, car hacking, tsunami scams and Pwn2Own.
  • Jimmy Kuo forwarded a reliable donation link at at, and here’s a post from Tracy Mooney on charitable giving .
  • A series of other blogs from McAfee:;;
  • Christopher Boyd on Japan “Miracle Stories” scams on Youtube… and Rogue AV results lurk in contamination comparison searches and ICRC Japan donation scam mails and .tk URLs offering surveys, installs and fake Tsunami footage and Tips for avoiding the endless Japan disaster files and A Japan-themed 419 scam…
  • Crawford Killian is tweeting a lot of more general Japan-related stuff that might be useful to you as background rather than as direct security stuff. (hat tip to Rob Slade.)
  • Nicholas Brulez: Japan Quake Spam leads to Malware
  • John Leyden for The Register: Fake Japan blackout alerts cloak Flash malware: Scumbags continue to batten on human misery
  • Not directly security-related, but I can see it being used as a social-engineering hook: Timothy Prickett Morgan on Japanese quake shakes semiconductor biz: Boards and chip packages hit too.
  • An article by Amanda Ripley that has no direct security implication that I can see offhand, but I thought was interesting anyway:
  • I probably won’t continue to add too many resources to this page that don’t have a direct and compelling security dimension, but if you are interested in the sort of footage of exploding reactors, tsunami hits and so on that blackhats use as bait for fake AV and clickjacking, the BBC has quite a few relevant videos: I know that because I watch the news. 🙂 I haven’t looked up individual links, but a quick Google search brings up several at no doubt searches of CNN etc. would bring up similar results. There’s lots of this stuff out there: no need to click on dubious links from unknown sources!

    David Harley CITP FBCS CISSP
    ESET Senior Research Fellow


    Haiti Relief Scams

    It’s been a while since I talked about Haiti.

    First of all, I’m delighted to report that Jeff’s father turned up very much alive.

    Less happily, Tom Kelchner of Sunbelt has flagged a story in USA Today that claims that more than 170 complaints have been received by federal law enforcement agencies relating to earthquake relief scams. Scams specifically mentioned include:

    • SEO poisoning directing search-engine users towards sites laced with rogue anti-malware
    • Door-to-door collectors for fake charities
    • 419-type emails from alleged victims or officials
    • SMS scams where text messages invite potential victims to ring a number to get more misinformation
    • Similar scams using social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
    • Fraudulent charity web sites.

    One fake charity I found particularly galling, as a Brit, was the one that claimed to be a British affiliate of the American Red Cross. Come on, guys, we’ve had our very own Red Cross since 1870 (some years before the foundation of the American Red Cross), though it wasn’t called called the British Red Cross Society until 1905. Of course, there’s no particular reason why most Americans should know about the British Red Cross as a matter of general knowledge, but this does illustrate the importance of checking the validity of a charitable organization before you contribute to it. Of course, you also need to be sure that where the charity is real, the collection mechanism is also genuine!

    USA Today recommends Charity Navigator ( and the American Institute of Philanthropy ( as a means of checking the charitable status of an organization.

    David Harley FBCS CITP CISSP
    Security Author/Consultant at Small Blue-Green World
    Chief Operations Officer, AVIEN
    ESET Research Fellow & Director of Malware Intelligence

    Also blogging at:

    Haiti: a more personal view

    Further to Thursday’s blog on the Haiti situation at, Jeff Debrosse, ESET’s Snr. Research Director, has put up a blog at that includes some additional resources, as regards both help resources and security information resources relevant to the disaster.

    On behalf of AVIEN I’d like to express our sympathy to Jeff, whose father is currently missing in Haiti, and our hope that he’ll turn up, safe and sound, very soon.

    Can I also point out that while I’m pleased to include pointers to other resources, as I mentioned in a previous blog here, I do need to be able to verify them? Sorry!

    David Harley FBCS CITP CISSP
    Chief Operations Officer, AVIEN
    Director of Malware Intelligence, ESET

    Also blogging at:

    Haiti-Related Resources

    Help resources, mostly: blogged at because there was an issue re security blogging in general to which I wanted to add my 2 cents.

    If you have additional resources you’d like to see added, mail me at dharley [at] Here are the resources listed in the blog above right now (I’ve been updating them as I’ve seen them come in.)

    That first resource includes a long list of contact information for legitimate organizations working in or for Haiti. It also includes some recommendations from the FBI via MSNBC for avoiding being scammed or worse by bad actors.

    Update: Tom Kelchner includes some resources for self-protection in the modestly entitled blog at

    The ESET blog has also been updated to include those and other resources.

    David Harley FBCS CITP CISSP
    Chief Operations Officer, AVIEN
    Director of Malware Intelligence, ESET

    Also blogging at: