Scammers are using the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to trick people into installing data-stealing programs on their computers, the Detroit Free Press reports.
Videos of friends, relatives and even celebrities pouring buckets of ice water on their heads as part of a fundraising campaign for ALS awareness and research have become a viral hit. But cybercriminals are taking advantage of an exploding internet meme and people's desire to help charity.
Some e-mails promising exciting Ice Bucket Challenge videos are actually attempts to obtain financial data or install malicious software, known as malware.
Clicking a link in the e-mail that claims to be a video can lead to a page that captures personal information. Opening an attachment can install software onto a computer that allows direct access to personal data.
Experts say that scammers often peg their click-bait and switch schemes to popular news stories or charity causes. These thieves even set up fake donation web pages to capture financial data, which happened after the earthquake in Haiti. Some thieves create fake charities that sound legitimate to steal thousands from well-meaning victims.
Security experts caution that you should never install software or click on donation links from an unknown source. To support ALS research or any other charity, type the organization's web address directly into the browser rather than clicking on an unfamiliar URL. Charity Navigator is a good resource to check before donating money or giving personal data to any nonprofit organization.