Fake Pope story is bait in unholy malware scam

VIRUS1 150x150 Fake Pope story is bait in unholy malware scamA fake news story that claims to offer shocking information about newly-appointed Pope Francis is making the rounds via e-mail. Spammers are using the resignation of Benedict XVI and the election of a new pope as an opportunity to spread malware.

Clicking on the fake story leads users to a website that hosts the Blackhole Exploit Kit, according to reports from Yahoo! Finance, cyber-security companies Symantec and Commtouch and others. The Blackhole Exploit Kit can be used to deliver various types of malware.

The spam e-mails have reportedly come from a fake sender email address named “CNN Breaking News.” Reported subject lines in the e-mail include:
• Opinion: Family sued new Pope. Exclusive!
• Opinion: New pope tries to shake off the past
• Opinion: Can New-Pope Benedict be Sued for the Sex Abuse Cases?
• Opinion: New Pope, Vatican officials sued over alleged sexual abuse!
• Opinion: New Pope Sued For Not Wearing Seat Belt In Popemobile…

Better Business Bureau warns consumers not to click the link. If you receive this e-mail, delete it without clicking any links. If you have already clicked a link in a similar e-mail, run an antivirus software program to find and delete the malware.

BBB reminds consumers to be wary of any e-mails from unknown senders, or suspicious e-mails from people you know. Here are a few tips to help avoid malware, spyware and phishing (attempts to steal your personal information via email):

• Never reply to an email that asks for personal information. Even if the e-mail appears to be from a trusted source, this may be a phishing attack, where someone is trying to illegitimately obtain your personal or financial information. Delete the e-mail immediately.

• Do not click on any links from unfamiliar sources. This may be a phishing attack, where someone is trying to redirect you to a website that may infect your computer with malicious code. If you really want to check out a link sent to you by email, research the company or individual first to confirm they are trustworthy. If so, then manually retype the link into a secure web browser.

• Keep anti-spyware, anti-virus and anti-spam software up to date. While consumers are ultimately responsible for keeping personal and financial information private, these technologies are designed to help keep phishing attacks at a minimum.

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About Charles Wood

Charles Wood is an investigator with the Austin Better Business Bureau. He joined BBB after more than 22 years as a newspaper journalist.