ALABAMA, BIRMINGHAM – The world’s obsession with superstar Michael Jackson’s sudden death is being exploited by a range of digital crooks who – in at least one instance – are using it to infect computers with a virus that can steal bank-account numbers and passwords.
According to the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Spam Data Mine, cybercriminals are embedding the data- stealing virus in an e-mail “that claims to link you to a website that will reveal Michael Jackson’s killer”.
If you click on the message, you will open a door to malware that will invade your hard drive, dig up key information and even redirect certain Google searches you perform by inserting links to other virus-infected pages in the top positions of search results, warned Mr Gary Warner, UAB’s director of research in computer forensics.
In another e-attack, an Internet worm is being transmitted via a mass e-mail claiming to contain secret Jackson songs and photos, computer-security firm Sophos reported yesterday.
If you open the attachment, you risk infection. “Once infected, a computer will automatically spread the worm to other Internet users,” Sophos said.
Besides spreading via e-mail, Sophos experts note that the malware is also capable of spreading through an autorun component in USB memory sticks.
Even relatively less virulent e-attacks could land your e-mail address into a spam mailing list that is being compiled for sale.
The first Jackson-related cyber- threat emerged within eight hours of his death.
Sophos has also warned of another e-scam that is not malware, but rather a phoney humanitarian cause seeking money for the “Michael Jackson Organization”. – AGENCIES
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