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Scammers using videos of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 to spread malware

March 2014: SCAMwatch and Stay Smart Online are warning consumers interested in finding out more about the recent disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 to be on guard when opening video footage about this event, as scammers are sending links infected with malware.

Scammers have been sending emails and social media messages at random with links purporting to be videos on the disappearance of the Malaysian Airlines flight. The link can take you to a website that appears to be a legitimate website (such as the BBC), however it is a fake. If you click on the link, your computer may be infected and scammers may be able to gain remote access.

Scammers are known to take advantage of major news stories or events where there is a high level of public interest. SCAMwatch has recently issued alerts on scammers targeting the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the 100th anniversary Anzac Day commemorations at Gallipoli in 2015, and the 2013 Boston marathon bomb tragedy. Scammers will use a range of tools to trick people under the guise of topical stories or events, such as spam emails with malicious content, selling fake tickets to an event in high demand, or seeking donations to fake charities.

Don’t let scammers taking advantage of tragedies, take advantage of you. If you want to find out more information about Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370, use a reliable news source rather than an unknown web link.

This information is based on an alert issued by Stay Smart Online, an Australian Government initiative that provides a free alert service on recent online threats and how they can be managed.

How this scam works 

  • You receive an email or social media message out of the blue that claims to contain links to video on the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370. The email or social media message may include text such as: ‘Malaysia Plane (MH-370) Has Been Found Near Bermuda Triangle. BBC News: Recent Video Released!’.
  • If you click on the link, you may be taken to a website that looks like the real deal, complete with logos and branding of legitimate news sites.
  • In order to view the video, you will be asked to install some software (such as a ‘codec’) to be able to access the video format. If you download the software, your computer will be infected with malware.
  • Alternatively, the scammers may have set up the malware to be downloaded simply when you click on the link and view the footage.
  • In another spin, the site that you are directed to may contain infected ads, which if you click on could cause malware to install on your computer.
  • If a scammer has infected your computer with malware, they may be able to access your personal information stored on the computer, including financial details.

Protect yourself

  • If you receive an email or social media message out of the blue from a stranger claiming to have information or news on Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370, do not click on any links or open attachments – just press ‘delete’.
  • If you want to access footage or information about major or breaking news, use a reliable news source rather than an unknown web link – there are many reputable online news sites where you can safely access credible information.
  • Always keep your computer security up to date with anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and a good firewall. Only buy computer and anti-virus software from a reputable source.
  • If you think your computer’s security has been compromised, use your security software to run a virus check. If you still have doubts, contact your anti-virus software provider or a computer specialist.

Report

You can report scams to the ACCC via the SCAMwatch report a scam page or by calling 1300 795 995.

You can also report spam to the ACMA.

More information

Visit the Stay Smart Online website to access the SSO Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 video malware alert. You can also sign up to their free Stay Smart Online Alert Service, and find out more information on avoiding online scams and managing spam.

Stay one step ahead of scammers – follow @SCAMwatch_gov on Twitter or visit http://twitter.com/SCAMwatch_gov.

 

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© Commonwealth of Australia 2014