If you’ve ever wondered how spammers got your email address, the answer might be that you gave it to them by following a link you thought had important or interesting information. We all know the kind of “interesting” information people will follow. Sex is the biggest business on the internet. But spammers have also learned that breaking news events can also be a lure, especially if there is public anxiety and uncertainty. About things like swine flu:
About five per cent of global spam volume mentions ‘swine flu’ to trick people into opening the e-mail message, say security experts.
As the swine flu outbreak reaches pandemic levels, cyber criminals use the flu scare as bait to scam internet users globally. According to security company McAfee Avert Labs, this could amount to billions of messages each day. (Business24-7)
- First US swine flu victims!
- US swine flu statistics
- Salma Hayek caught swine flu!
- Swine flu worldwide!
- Swine flu in Hollywood!
- Swine flu in USA
- Madonna caught swine flu!
That’s just a small inoculum. Swine flu spam comes in many different strains and subtypes. There is the antiviral and quack cure spam that takes you to a phony pill vendor, the natural remedy quack or an unrelated site whose only function is to be there to harvest your email address, credit card number (if you are dumb enough to provide it) or install some nasty virus (computer version) or Trojan horse malware. We’ve had a number of instances of that type appear as comment spam on the blog. We clean it out as soon as we see it. McAfee also reports domain name registrations mentioning the word “swine” are up 30 fold (although I imagine pre-outbreak, swine was not a popular name, so 30 times a smallish number may still be relatively small).
Just a reminder to also practice good computer hygiene during a real pandemic. Just as most human viral diseases came originally from animals, and there seem to be a fair number of reptiles with their own keyboards out there.