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Spammers Exploiting Tragic News Stories More Than Ever, Study Finds

If you keep up with the news, you know that 2009 saw its share of tragedy. There was the Air France crash, Michael Jackson's sudden death, and the swine flu epidemic, just to name a few. While these tragic events were bad enough, spammers (or the vultures of the Web) took bad to worse -- capitalizing on people's curiosity and compassion with malware-infected e-mails that claimed to regard such newsworthy events.

According to CNET News, while worldwide spam levels dropped at the end of 2009, hackers sent out more and more e-mails with newsy subject lines (e.g., "Bomb Blast", "Obama Cursed by Pope"). While those particular headlines don't sound believable, many folks received sneakier e-mails from hackers posing as emissaries of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) during the swine flu outbreak. The continuing economic slump also enabled spammers to exploit people's desire to get rich quick. As we said, there was plenty of spam surrounding the King of Pop's death and the tragic crash of the Air France jet, too. All of this information comes from McAfee's "Q4 Threats Report"; which looked at the Fourth Quarter's hot trends in cybercrime. The report also noted that "hacktivism," or politically motivated attacks, surged at the end of last year.

It's a shame that people exploit tragedies in this manner. The best you can do is protect yourself by being more judicious when opening e-mails and clicking links. Tragedies will continue to occur, and the vultures will keep circling. [From: CNET News and McAfee]

Tags: cdc, hack, mcafee, news, spam, threat, top, trends, web