Spammers Capitalizing on Swine Flu to Pitch Bogus Medications

Posted: April 29, 2009

Spammers are seeking an interest in exploiting the Swine Flu epidemic to extend offers for fake pharmaceuticals.

According to Dave Marcus, director of security research at McAfee Inc., the number of spam messages related to Swine Flu has been spreading rapidly accounting for about 2% of all spam messages today. Spam message with the subject lines, "Madonna caught swine flu!" and "First US swine flu victims!", have increased just recently. Security researchers believe that spammers are using related spam messages to lead users to online drug sites or to harvest credit card numbers from gullible consumers.

The swine flu, or the newest influenza strain, has been making headlines since last week. Sophos Labs has also witnessed an influx of spam campaigns that includes messages containing a link that redirects users to a Canadian Pharmacy site.

McAfee researcher, Chris Barton, said to expect the pharmaceutical web sites to start pushing Oseltamivir, which is the prescription antiviral drug marketed under the trade name Tamiflu.

Are Malware makers taking advantage of the swine flu pandemic also?

Currently there is no evidence supporting that malware makers have started to capitalize on the swine flu bandwagon, but we should not be surprised if it happens soon. It is very possible that we may see viral videos related to swine flu, that ask users to "click here" and then it prompts the download of a fake Adobe Flash Player, leading to the installation of malware.

Why exploit something as serious as swine flu?

Whenever there is a popular story or even happening around the world, we see a major spike in the amount of spam messages directly or indirectly related to the same subject matter. Hackers know how to exploit these situations, mainly for monitory gain. We should not be surprised to see even more spam messages related to swine flu as the cases increase. Unfortunately the swine flu pandemic has already caused panic and death around the world. The last thing we need is to add fuel to the fire with bogus messages or spam emails exploiting the swine flu scare. Computer users are urged to be cautions when opening messages related to swine flu.

Have you received any swine flu email messages yet? Did they contain a link that redirected you to a suspicious website?

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