31st August, 2010
Internet fraudsters are using hoax stories about the death of major celebrities to install viruses on thousands of peopleâ€™s computers worldwide.
Scammers are sending e-mails containing links which claim that people like Beyonce, Tom Cruise or Tiger Woods have died in plane or car crash.
One common e-mail claims that the named celebrity has died along with 34 other people when their plane crashed into a mountainside while approaching the airport.
The hoax e-mails tell the user that celebrities like Tom Cruise or Beyonce have died in a plane crash and to click on a link to find out more.
Recipients are asked to open an attachment for further details.
But when the user clicks on the link, a Trojan computer virus is installed on their computer which can then give the virusâ€™ creator complete remote control of their machine.
According to internet security firm, Symantec, there has been a sharp rise in Trojan.Zbot infections since the beginning of August.
The firm is seeing around 80,000 to 100,000 infections each day, using a variety of different scams.
The Zeus Trojan has been active for the past year and is used by fraudsters to steal information including logins and passwords, which are stored on the userâ€™s PC.
The fraudster can then use the PC ownerâ€™s logins and passwords to raid bank accounts or imply harvest the details and sell them onto other fraudsters via underground servers.
According to Con Mallon, Norton internet security expert, â€œultimately, your PC becomes a bot and therefore falls under the control of the â€˜bot master.â€™ This person or persons can then send instructions to your machine.
â€œFor example, one thing we have noticed that it can do is to remove your â€˜cookies,â€™ meaning the next time you log into a web site, you have to enter in the login and password and Zeus can monitor this and then send this information to a remote server.â€
The Zeus Trojan is even able to add extra fields to otherwise safe web pages.
This could be used to add a â€˜falseâ€™ field that requires you to type in your national security number when you are doing internet banking.
A computer engineer in the popular Computer Village in Ikeja, Lagos, South West Nigeria, Mr. Ifeanyi Ijeh, gives an expert advice on how to tackle the latest internet threat.
â€œIf your computer is logged on to the internet, first thing you must do is make sure you are using an original anti-virus protection for the computer. On a regular basis, you must run the update to ensure that any threat is blocked from entering your system. As for the latest virus invasion of peopleâ€™s computer by scammers, I think the reasonable thing for anyone to do is to avoid opening any unsolicited mail. No matter how juicy the information the mail is carrying, make sure that you donâ€™t follow the tricky instruction to open an attachment to read the mail.
â€œIf you suspect that you have already fallen victim of this scam and have noticed that your computer suddenly reboots, quickly consult your computer engineer to format the system. Allowing the virus to remain on your system may be very dangerous as a hacker may be somewhere assessing information on your computer.â€