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Spammers swift to exploit Jackson death to punt malware

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Updated Miscreants have wasted no time exploiting the shock death of Michael Jackson to run email harvesting and banking Trojan campaigns.

Security watchers warn that more malware-laced emails themed around the death of the King of Pop and Charlie's Angels star Farrah Fawcett, who also died on Thursday, are likely to follow.

Just eight hours after Jackson's demise, net security firm Sophos detected a spam run supposedly offering more details on the pop star's death, while actually designed to harvest victims’ email addresses, as explained below.

The body of spam message does not contains any call-to-action link such as url, email, or phone number. And the from email address of the message is bogus. But the spammer can harvest receivers’ email addresses via a free live email address if the spam message is replied to.

If you get this message you need just delete it!

No newsworthy event or natural disaster is complete these days without related scams and malware-themed attacks springing up in the days that follow. The London transport suicide bombing attacks of 2005, Hurricane Katrina, the Asian tsunami of 2004, and the execution of Saddam Hussein have all provided fodder for Trojan-laced email attacks.

Both McAfee (here) and security watchers at the SANS Institute's Internet Storm Centre (here) advise network administrators and users to brace for spam and malware attacks that take advantage of interest in Jackson's untimely demise to distribute malware or promote dodgy drug sites, to cite just two examples. Phishing emails themed around supposed O2 ticket refunds might also be imagined.

Jackson was scheduled to embark on a 50-night residency at London's O2 arena next month. ®

Updated

As predicted, spam email offering links to "unpublished videos and pictures" of Jackson have cropped up in malware campaigns. Spam email doing the rounds ostensibly offer link to a YouTube video while, in reality, sending recipients to a Trojan Downloader hosted on a compromised web site.

Websense has a full write-up of the attack here.

Meanwhile hackers are gaming search engines so that links to sites offering scareware packages appear prominently in search for Farrah Fawcett, as explained by Trend Micro here.

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