100 domains related to Hurricane Gustav registered in 48 hours

Nearly 100 domains related to Hurricane Gustav have been registered in the past 48 hours, security experts said Sunday, some of which may be used by bogus charity and relief scams after the storm strikes the U.S. Gulf Coast.

According to television station KTAL in Shreveport, La., the office of Louisiana’s Attorney General Buddy Caldwell has warned residents of Gustav phishing attacks already in progress.

On Saturday, Marcus Sachs, the director of the SANS Institute’s Internet Storm Center (ISC), noted that numerous domains containing the word “gustav,” “charity,” “hurricane,” and “relief” had been recently registered.

“On the day [Hurricane] Katrina hit New Orleans [in 2005] hundreds of donation sites appeared online, many if not most were scam sites,” said Sachs in a post yesterday to the ISC research blog. “Well this time around it looks like the people who like to register domain names in anticipation of a storm’s arrival have already started registering them for Gustav.”

By Sunday, Sachs had listed almost 100 Gustav sites culled from the DomainTools Web site. “Most of these sites are parked domains and many of them are for sale,” he said. “They will be worth monitoring, particularly if ‘donate here’ messages appear.”

Several of the domains, in fact, do appear to be parked, or registered but not fleshed out with content. Others, including helpgustavictims.com and helpgustavvictions.net, were for sale on eBay as of mid-day Sunday.

A few, however, led to legitimate charities. The domain gustavcharity.com, for example, redirected users to the Web site of the evangelical Christian organization “Samaritan’s Purse,” while contributegustav.org took users to the Baton Rouge Area Foundation’s site.

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