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Hackers Exploit Virginia Tech Tragedy

April 2007:
Internet bottom-feeders have already began to capitalize on the Virginia Tech tragedy. Emails are being distributed that contain a photograph of Virginia Tech shooter, Cho Seung Hui. Recipients are promised access to camera phone footage of the shooting if they click a link in the message.

However, clicking on the link downloads and installs a Trojan that can harvest data such as banking passwords and usernames.

Tragedies and disasters are often exploited by hackers and scammers very soon after the events unfold. As well as malware attacks like the one discussed above, such "disaster" scams may also take the form of fraudulent requests for donations, phishing scams that try to trick people into handing over their personal information, and Nigerian style scams that falsely promise large fees in exchange for helping to distribute funds to victims of the tragedy.

Internet users should remain alert for scams of this nature over the coming weeks and months. Be wary of any emails concerning the Virginia Tech shootings. Do not click on links or open attachments in these emails unless you are certain of their veracity. If you donate money to help victims of the tragedy, ensure that you give via a legitimate charitable organization. If you donate online, make sure that you are using the genuine website of the charitable organization and not a spoof website designed to steal your information. Links in bogus donation emails may point to such fake websites.

Remember that the morally debased individuals who orchestrate such scams will not hesitate to use even the most terrible human tragedies for their own ends. They willingly exploit our natural desire to try to understand such tragedies, our heart-felt empathy and our desire to help victims in order to steal from us.

We can all help to thwart these heinous activities by remaining vigilant, keeping our computers secure, and ensuring that other Internet users are also aware of such threats.

Malware attack poses as camera phone footage of Virginia Tech tragedy
Malware spam promises Virginia Tech video

Last updated: 20th April 2007
First published: 20th April 2007

Write-up by Brett M.Christensen