Experts at SophosLabs™, Sophos's global network of virus, spyware and spam analysis centers, have warned computer users to take greater care online, following an increase in the amount of spam email seen offering romantic contact.
Sophos warns that such emails can have a number of purposes, including confirming that an email address is active - and thus more attractive to spammers. More sinisterly it can lead to a confidence trick that sees the recipient building up a "relationship" with their new electronic friend and ultimately hand over money or personal information, perhaps to pay for a ticket for the young woman to visit.
Two recent examples of spam claiming to come from pretty young women.
"Some people need a reality check, and take a long hard look at themselves in the mirror - is it really likely that an unknown young woman would see them on the web and be moved to make contact? And even if it was, would this be the sane behavior of anyone you would ever want to meet?," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "If you do reply to a message like this the danger is that you will not just be confirming your email address is 'live', but also you could be pulled into a circle of deception designed to separate you from the contents of your wallet."
Sophos experts note that the email addresses used to contact the supposed author of the message are, in some cases, the same as known spam sites selling pharmaceutical products.
"There is more medical and pharmaceutical-related spam seen than any other kind, so it's no surprise to see that some spammers may be using the lure of pretty young women to hook the unwary," continued Cluley.
Sophos recommends companies protect themselves with a consolidated solution which can defend against the threats of both spam and viruses.
Sophos is headquartered in Boston, US and Oxford, UK. More information is available at www.sophos.com.