Online profiteers expected to hit up Newtown sympathizers

About 85 percent of new sites related to the tragedy have not conveyed their aims yet.

Beware of fraudulent or virus-laden websites targeting sympathizers of the victims of Friday’s school shooting and gun control advocates, say cyber researchers.

Following the losses in Newtown, Conn., unknown entities have registered new domain names related to the events, Mark Baggett, who monitors malicious activity on the Web for the nonprofit Internet Storm Center, wrote in a blog post on Monday. While many of the sites likely are owned by caring individuals and organizations assisting affected families, “other sites will undoubtedly belong to scammers who will capitalize on people’s desire to help by establishing fake charities,” he added.

The center has not discovered any malicious software yet, but of the roughly 100 domains currently registered, 85 percent are not set up yet, fellow ISC threat-watcher John Bambenek wrote in an email.

In a separate email, Baggett told Nextgov, ISC has identified two domains where one cannot easily determine who is responsible for the site. “They are suspicious,” he said.

Baggett, in his earlier blog entry, noted that some of the new sites “may belong to political organizations who will attempt to further their side of an argument as a result of this tragedy.”  

We’ll update you on any deceptive websites or emails uncovered.