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    April 3 cannot come soon enough for those who are eager to get their hands on the iPad. If anything, Apples recent announcement that the gadget will soon be available in the United States only added to the excitement over the much-talked-about gadget. Unfortunately, spammers are using the current enthusiasm over the iPad to their advantage as well.

    In fact, Trend Micro anti-spam research engineers have already seen a number of spammed messages that promise free iPads to lure unwitting users into their scams. In one such spam sample, recipients are being invited to test the iPad at no cost by simply applying to be part of a “word-of-mouth” marketing campaign. They may not have to shell out a single cent but the price they have to pay will be their identities.

    Click for larger view Click for larger view

    The spammed messages instruct users to reply to the email with their personal information, which spammers could easily use for further malicious activities. As Trend Micro anti-spam research engineer Argie Gallego recommends, “Users should be suspicious of any freebies offered online, particularly those requiring sensitive personal information such as full names and contact numbers. We have only seen a number of iPad-related spam so far but we expect the numbers to rise as April 3 draws near.”

    This recent spam run is no different from how cybercriminals leveraged the iPad launch in January, which led to a FAKEAV variant. Users should thus continue exercising caution in opening email messages from unknown senders. It is also important to be cautious in conducting Web searches on hot topics such as the iPad, as these are often used for blackhat search engine optimization (SEO) attacks as seen in the past. Interestingly, Apple does not own any iPad-related domain names so users should really pay close attention to URLs before they click.

    Trend Micro™ Smart Protection Network™ prevents spammed messages from reaching users’ inboxes via the Web reputation service.

    Non-Trend Micro product users can also stay protected by using eMail ID, which prevents fake messages from reaching their inboxes. It also helps users quickly find legitimate messages.

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