Wednesday, May 6, 2009

H1N1 Virus Attention Attracts Scammers and Phishers

It seems that whenever there is a high impact news story that captivates the world, there are always criminals in the background waiting to prey on people's fears. So, with all the attention being given to the H1N1 Virus (Swine Flu), you also need to be wary of spam email and phishing attacks. There have been numerous reports of scammers sending out emails with titles about the Swine Flu. These emails can contain links or files that infect the user's computer with malware that will either damage the computer or steal personal data that is stored on the computer. Some emails that are being sent out claim to sell vaccines and exotic cures for the Swine Flu. While some scams are easy to spot, others are more difficult for people to pick up on including this example:

Another attack, reported by researchers at Symantec (NSDQ:SYMC), informed recipients of the swine flu disaster by incorporating a linked news headline from reputable news agencies. Users are asked whether they are in the U.S. or Mexico and whether or not they know anybody who is affected by the outbreak. Victims are then requested to share their experiences by filling in Web application forms or replying back with their e-mails and phone numbers. However, the online questionnaire is a way for scammers to steal identifying information from unsuspecting victims.

security experts recommend that users go directly to trusted news sources for information on the swine flu virus and avoid opening unsolicited e-mail messages and links.

You need to be careful about what information you are submitting about yourself online. recently published a very informative article titled, "FAQ: Demistifying ID Fraud" about identity fraud which answers these important questions:
  • How does the data get stolen from my computer?
  • If I don't use my credit or debit card on the Internet, how does the data get stolen?
  • What do the criminals do with the data when they get it?
This is a very informative article and also includes some links of sites to go to if you think you are a victim.

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