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Spammers use swine flu panic to peddle products

April 27, 2009 | 10:55 am

Swine
Spammers are taking advantage of the panic about swine flu. Credit: zugaldia via Flickr.

Security experts are warning today that computer viruses may be the next part of the swine flu outbreak. Spammers, it seems, have taken advantage of the worldwide panic over the disease to send out e-mails mentioning swine flu to try to trick people into opening them, according to McAfee Avert Labs.

The spammers advertise drugs and online pharmacies, McAfee said, and the lab "predicts more nefarious scams are coming," including links to malware-laden websites. McAfee has also seen an increase in domain names that refer to swine flu.

At least the spammers are creative. Some of the subject lines include: "Salma Hayek caught swine flu!" and "Madonna caught swine flu!" and "Swine flu in Hollywood!" Less exclamation point-heavy messages include "U.S. swine flu statistics" and "Swine flu in USA."

Ironically, McAfee's e-mail about this flood of spam also contained a subject line referring to swine flu.

-- Alana Semuels

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