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Old June 10th, 2005, 09:18 PM   #1
Flamingo Girl
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Default Jacko 'suicide' net hoax

By JONATHAN WEINBERG
Sun Online

AN EMAIL which claims Michael Jackson has killed himself is tricking Internet users into downloading a computer virus - disguised as his "suicide note".

Experts at virus busters SophosLabs say those sending the infected messages are preying on the intense interest in the controversial popstar's trial in a bid to cause harm.

The spam emails arrive with the subject: 'Re: Suicidal aattempt' and a message which starts: 'Last night, while in his Neverland Ranch, Michael Jackson has made a suicidal attempt."

It then tells users to click a link in the email to read the star's final note but this really logs onto a website infected with a Trojan horse that can spy on someone's computer habits and steal information such as passwords.

Carole Theriault, security consultant for Sophos, said: "If you click on the link, the website displays a message saying it is too busy, which may not surprise people who think it might contain genuine breaking news about Michael Jackson.

"However, this is a diversionary tactic - because behind-the-scenes the website is downloading malware onto the user's computer without their knowledge."

This is not the first time the troubled pop star has been exploited by virus writers and hackers attempting to cause mayhem.

In October 2004, messages were posted on the Internet claiming that incriminating home videos belonging to Jackson had been discovered - but clicking on the link infected web surfers with another Trojan horse.

"The sick minds behind viruses and other malware often exploit celebrity names and news stories in an attempt to infect as many people as possible," Ms Theriault added.

"All computer users should be very careful about clicking on weblinks in unsolicited email or launching unknown attachments."
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