Hurricane Sandy: Where are all the cynical online scams?
Update: Ah, there you are!
Comment The occurrence of a natural disaster or celebrity death have been guaranteed to mean the appearance of topical scams and malware for some years, certainly since the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004 if not before.
But the devastation wrought by superstorm Sandy on the US north-east coast and beyond has strangely been accompanied by little or no hurricane-themed scams or malware. Fake photos of the storm have appeared online but they haven't been used to trick surfers into visiting scareware portals or exploit-ridden sites. Fake donation pages are notable by their absence. We haven't even come across bogus emails from supposed Nigerian princes left stranded by the storm in Staten Island or Atlantic City, or similar curtain-raisers for the ever popular 419 (advanced fee fraud) scams.
There hasn't even been increased spam, we'd tentatively suggest. Online scams normally surface, at the latest, 24 hours after tragedy strikes but with Sandy there have been unusually few scams, or at least few reports of attempted fraud.
We'd like to think that either disaster-themed scams have lost their appeal as lures or that compassion has won the day. Only a cynic would suggest that perhaps scammers mainly live in New Jersey ...
Meanwhile, back in the real world, Sandy has claimed at least 55 lives, left thousands (at least temporarily) homeless, shut down the electrical grid and caused billions of dollars' worth of damage, mainly in New York and New Jersey. ®
Update: Some Sandy-themed scams have started to appear, albeit a little later than has become normal after a natural disaster. Sophos warns of the appearance of Hurricane Sandy spam messages that act as a lure for survey scams falsely touting "free multi-coloured iPads".
Elsewhere Verizon reports seeing a first use of Sandy as a theme for targeted malware attacks, punting the Sykipot trojan.
Meanwhile, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is using the infrastructure damage caused by Hurricane Sandy to hype cyber threats.
"but she's got no power and no water, and is online at a Starbucks."
If someone has to go to Starbucks for anything, the situation should automatically be upgraded to "pretty fucking bad".
Obama vs Bush
Unlike Bush, Obama is apparently doing an exceptional job in getting relief to affected people. Apparently he's doing such a good job that even major Republican talking heads are *congratulating and thanking him*.
I think Sandy just won Obama the election. Or perhaps more accurately, Americans are now seeing clearly first hand how effective a democrat president is, compared to the mindblowing incompetence of a republican one. Mitt is getting his rear end handed to him over wanting to shut down FEMA.
I don't know how the absence of tragedy related scams degraded into a "brilliant" political analysis of the first idiot and his pin head challenger, but the biggest difference is that New Orleans sits below sea level. There are levee's surrounding it and there are massive sump pumps under the city that run pretty much 24/7. So when the city floods, there's a fairly probability that the power feeding those pumps stops. A fair portion of NYC sits a fair piece above sea level and it's on bedrock.
While Sandy was a big storm, statistically, the storms that move through the gulf of mexico are much more powerful and bring a much higher storm surge along with them. So one would figure the municiple government of New Orleans would have learned from neighboring gulf states.
While Bush was another poor example of American leadership, he didn't go to New Orleans simply because he knew the Secret Service would attempt to rob every available first responder from the job of actually helping for additonal security detail support. The current administration wanted to come to NYC to survey the damage, but the mayor at least had sense graciously decline the visit request. Instead he toured New Jersey with their governor.
Perhaps the biggest difference is that instead of the examples set by the Mayor of New Orleans and the Governor of Louisiana, the Mayor of NYC remained in the city and the necessary authorities made sure that the City's support infrastructure didn't degrade. When the management of both New Orleans and Louisiana bailed to save their own skins, even when they had every convienance at their disposal, the city and state fell into a state of anarchy.
Finally, even with all the warnings to evacuate, most of the people down in New Orleans stayed put. Being unable to live off the land like the cajun folk and completely unprepared, I'm really quite surprised there weren't more tragedies. Personally I hold the mayor of New Orleans and governor of Louisania completely responsible because of their utter lack of leadership.