Today’s world is a dangerous one, and many of us like to stay informed. It’s been said that nearly half of all individuals with internet access get their news online, and given that the majority of those with access use e-mail as well, it’s no wonder that so many find headlines delivered to their inbox a helpful idea. Unfortunately, however, having news headlines delivered to your inbox may actually harm your computer. In early August, thousands of e-mail users began receiving deliveries to their inboxes with headlines like “CNN.com Daily Top 10”, “CNN Alerts: Breaking News” and “MSNBC.com Breaking News” in their subject lines. Because of the overwhelming temptation to get the news conveniently via e-mail, many of those users chose to open those same e-mails, thus unleashing rogue programs that have damaged machines on a worldwide basis. Why Shouldn’t I Click? I Trust These Sites It’s unfortunate. Many people do trust respected names like CNN and MSNBC in the world of news. After all, they’re the corporate news giants many people have grown up hearing. Unfortunately, none of these e-mails were sent by these news giants. Instead, they were created to ensure malware might be downloaded to your machine, thus opening security holes for other programs to filter through. One study suggested that 250 million of these CNN e-mails were sent in just one day. Another one said 2.5 million of these MSNBC e-mails were transmitted every hour on a given day. What’s the Real Danger? Opening one of these e-mails can seriously harm your computer. It downloads a file called adobe_flash.exe, which is actually a Trojan. Most sources have said it is the Trojan “EncPk-DA” or “Exchanger.mn.” Either way, once installed on your machine, you’ll be connected to another server to ensure other rogue programs are installed on your computer, putting you in a very sticky situation. What Do I Look For? Whether you’re getting the CNN version or the MSNBC version, all of these fake news e-mails have a very convincing subject line and a fairly official format. In the CNN e-mails, the subject line says something like “CNN Alert: My Custom Alert” or “CNN.com Daily Top Ten.” The Daily Top Ten e-mail will proceed to list the ten most popular stories on the site. Clicking on any one of them will send you to a fake link which will ask you to install a file so you can view the story. Clicking “Yes” will install the Trojan on your computer. In the case of the MSNBC e-mails, you’ll see a subject line that says something like “MSNBC.com – BREAKING NEWS” followed by a stunning headline. Here are just a few that have been noticed over the past month: McCain told lies to win votes Abortion made illegal in New York Tiger Woods to take a 2 year break from golf I will be suing you Bomb scare grounds thousands of flights at UK Heathrow airport Once you open the MSNBC version, you’ll see a very official looking e-mail that looks something like the below: Find out more at http://breakingnews.msnbc.com ======================================================= See the top news of the day at MSNBC.com, and the latest from Today Show and NBC Nightly News. ========================================= This e-mail is never sent unsolicited. You have received this MSNBC Breaking News Newsletter newsletter because you subscribed to it or, someone forwarded it to you. To remove yourself from the list (or to add yourself to the list if this message was forwarded to you) simply go to http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25384336, select unsubscribe, enter the email address receiving this message, and click the Go button. Microsoft Corporation – One Microsoft Way – Redmond, WA 98052 MSN PRIVACY STATEMENT http://privacy.msn.com (http://privacy.msn.com/) Clicking on any of the links, of course, takes you to a site that then installs the Trojan. Once you click, you get a message about your flash player. It will ask you if you want to install the file, and if you say yes, you’ve just invited the Trojan on to your computer. Monitoring Your System If you think you may have opened one of these e-mails, there are a few ways to tell. First, you’re immediately going to notice a slow down in your system processes. Remember, you’ve opened several security holes by clicking on that e-mail, and it’s a bit like opening the flood gates. Your computer is literally being taken over by other programs, so there’s very little room to run your web browser or even your word processing program. Additionally, you may notice a program called Antivirus XP 2008 has been installed on your computer. Because this is a rogue antispyware program, you will probably see fake scans of your machine and frightening messages suggesting that you’ve been infected with malware. They will all suggest that the only way to get rid of it is to purchase and download the full version of the program. You may also notice that your desktop background looks a bit different. It is now probably a warning message about your computer’s numerous infections. It may even say that you can no longer change your desktop background because of the number of infections on your computer. What Do I Do If I Opened One? If you did open one, and you’ve noticed the signs above, there is something you can do about it. Many people believe that simply running their currently installed virus software will solve the problem if one of these SPAM e-mails has opened security holes in your system. Regrettably, this is simply not the case. The programs one of these e-mails may have downloaded to your computer are not viruses in most instances. As a result, your anti virus solution, even if it’s been properly updated, will not be able to remove the traces of these programs from your system. The best thing to do if you have opened one of these e-mails is to run your anti spyware program. If you have yet to invest in a reputable anti spyware program, now is the time to do so. Solutions that help to tackle rogue programs and other kinds of threats to your machine, reputable anti spyware programs should be part of your computer’s security system. Before you purchase any anti spyware program, though, carefully research your options. Talk with colleagues as well as friends and family members about the software they have chosen. Research each of their selections carefully, and evaluate each program to ensure that it will function as you need it to. Purchase the one that you think the best selection for you, download it, and scan your machine. It should remove any problem files immediately, and as long as you update it frequently and scan your machine on a regular basis, problems like these e-mails will become a thing of the past quickly.

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