August 6, 2011

Caution Urged In Dealings Involving New Harry Potter Website

Pottermore, the forthcoming website that will carry ebook versions of the popular J.K. Rowling Harry Potter novels, is proving to be a valuable tool in online con-artists spreading malware or hocking fake early access accounts, security expert Christopher Boyd has discovered.

In a Thursday blog, Boyd, an employee of GFI Labs, points out that "access is currently limited for the Beta," and while lots of Harry Potter enthusiasts are "excited" about the first ebook editions of the novels and the additional content the Pottermore site promises to offer, it means that "ole' lightning forehead has become a prime target for scams and people wanting to turn a quick profit."

According to BBC News, Pottermore, an interactive hub for the ebooks co-operated by Sony, officially launches in October, but early Beta access is being awarded to people who can successfully completes a "magical quill challenge" on the website. Approximately one million beta accounts will be given away in the challenge, which ends Saturday.

"Scammers are now offering to register people for this challenge and are getting hold of their personal details as a result," the British media outlet reports.

In addition, the BBC reveals that "some scammers are supposedly selling Pottermore accounts for about $100 (£60) via eBay," and while some of the accounts available from these websites are legitimate, the administrators of the site have "issued a warning about the practice."

In fact, Sara Yin of PCMag.com says that they have posted the following warning online: "Please do not buy, sell, or transfer Pottermore early access accounts. Obtaining Beta registration for Pottermore with the intent of selling on those registration details for monetary gain not only deprives genuine fans the chance to gain early access, it is also expressly prohibited in The Magical Quill promotion Terms & Conditions"¦ We have the right to terminate any Pottermore accounts that are sold online."

In his blog post, Boyd warns against dealing with any website that offers to "register on your behalf" to Pottermore or any other website, as well as to avoid survey-style scams that promise downloadable access, and to make sure that you have proper antivirus and computer protection software to avoid links to malware downloads disguised as popular websites, such as Pottermore.

"If your kids are happily babbling on about the joys of Pottermore, it may well be worth sitting down with them and pointing out the types of shenanigans they need to avoid," Boyd wrote.


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