Michael Jackson's death sparks off spam, Sophos reports

June 26, 2009 Sophos Press Release

IT security and control firm Sophos is warning users to be wary of spam messages using the untimely death of music legend Michael Jackson to harvest unsuspecting computer users' email addresses for future spam campaigns.

Approximately eight hours after the King of Pop's death yesterday, SophosLabs witnessed the first wave of spam messages taking advantage of the breaking news in the subject line and body of the email.

In these messages, the spammer claims that they have vital information about the death of Michael Jackson to share with somebody - ie. the user. Sophos experts note that the body of the email does not contain any call-to-action links - such as a URL, email address or phone number - and the 'from' email address is bogus, however the spammer can easily harvest recipients' email addresses via a free live email address if computer users reply to the spam message.

Spam related to Michael Jackson's death

"The untimely death of the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, has sent shockwaves through the entire world - but unfortunately, this type of huge news story is also the perfect vehicle for spammers to snare vulnerable computer users," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. "These spammers are relying on curious users to reply to their bogus claims - but if you receive one of these messages you just need to delete it."

"We've also discovered cybcercriminals taking advantage of the sad death of 70s TV icon Farrah Fawcett to spread fake anti-virus software, so users should certainly remain vigilant. The fact is that cybercriminals have no respect for taste and decency. The only thing they are interested in is making some money for themselves, and turning other computer users' lives into a misery."