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September 11th, 2008

Malware Spam With Infected Attachment Spreaded With Fake News About Nuclear Power Plant Explosion Near London

SophosLabs has intercepted a widespread malicious spam campaign that claims there was a powerful explosion at a nuclear power station outside London two days ago. According to the email, the government have stopped the media reporting about the incident and prevented anyone affected by it contacting the outside world. Email attachment (called supposedly contains images of the devastation left by the explosion and pictures of victims’ bodies.

No such plant exists anywhere near London. The nearest is probably Dungeness B in south east Kent, some 77 miles (124km) by road from the capital. The attached zip file is contaminated with a Trojan horse, identified by net security firm Sophos as Troj/Agent-HQE. Once the malware is installed, hackers can use it to spy on the victim’s computer and steal information for financial gain.

The emails typically arrive with subject lines such as “Reply: A report on radiation contamination of Canada”, suggesting that a nuclear disaster has occurred and the UK and local authorities have succeeded in hushing it up.

“Rather than use a real life event, the hackers have turned to fictional explosions and conspiracy theories in the hope they will strike a nerve with potential victims who will then click on the attachment without a second thought,” commented Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos.

All computer users need to show some common sense and delete these messages. Until everyone wakes up to these social engineering tactics, the cybercriminals will continue to use them. As always, it’s a good idea to ensure that your computer is defended with up-to-date anti-virus protection.

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