A huge increase in potentially dangerous celebrity death spam has prompted security firm Symantec to warn users not to open morbid messages.
Targetted celebrities include Beyoncé Knowles, Bon Jovi, Brad Pitt, David Beckham and Gwen Stefani, with these latest attacks using a subject line that invariably contains the words ‘died’ or ‘Fatal Crash’.
“Strange stories of celebrities have suddenly erupted in the spam ring, which describe their deaths in plane crashes or car accidents. The intention of distributing such false news is to spread viruses using HTML or zipped attachments,” the firm wrote in a blog post.
“This is an old trick of using celebrity names to lure recipients into opening malicious URL or attachments.”
The message usually claims that the celebrity in question has died along with 34 other people in a plane that crashed into the side of a mountain on approach to an airport.
Recipients who want more details are then urged to open an attachment. This attachment, called “Hot News.zip”, contains an executable file that Symantec has identified as Trojan.Zbot.
“By using brand names such as well-known news agencies gives [the spammer] the much-needed credibility in order to gain trust in the recipient’s mind,” Symantec said.
“Users should follow standard practices of not opening any suspicious links or attachments received in unsolicited email or from an unexpected source.”
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