Friday, July 3, 2009

Beware the MJ virus

Beware the MJ virus
Fri, Jul 03, 2009
my paper

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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