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Malware E-mail Contain Jackson, Obama or Swine Flu Commonly in 2009

According to PandaLabs, which conducted a malware analysis, the most common subjects in spam campaigns that distribute malware, and messages sent on Facebook and Twitter in 2009 are Michael Jackson, Barack Obama and swine flu.

The security company states that virus writers are exploiting people's increasing surfing ventures on the Internet for updated information about important social occurrences. Hence, they (virus writers) are depending on the most recent news and frequently use search terms as lures for malware distribution.

PandaLabs, a place where security provider Panda Security conducts its web research, said that its recent malware assessment found that 30% of malware in the period January-July 2009 were distributed through e-mails related to Michael Jackson and his death.

A further 27% of malware e-mails exploited people's fear about swine flu, while 11% of such e-mails related to Obama, PandaLabs said.

Other highly successful issues were applications for monitoring spouses' movements in wake of suspected infidelity, while topics like Reuters' news, Internet shopping discount coupons and American Independence Day also formed other popular subjects for spammers during the period.

Moreover, Panda Security found that cyber criminals often relied on ongoing happenings as their main instruments to spread malware. An extremely active virus group in the current times was Waledac which, though emerged in 2007, was still highly prevalent, using the topics mentioned, the firm stated.

Hackers and spammers hook onto current events and popular culture developments to entice Internet users into accessing websites that harbor malware. Commonly, a malware site directs visitors to download a codec online for watching a video, but downloads the malicious software.

To remain protected from the attacks, Panda said that after attackers managed to draw users' attention, they diverted them on web-pages that spoofed the actual pages for downloading something. Thus, users must ensure that the URL address shown inside the web browser's address bar truly represents the authorized address.

The company further said that users should avoid suspicious links or check the links' sources for authenticity.

Related article: Malware Authors Turn More Insidious

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