Jackson suicide spam hides virus
Michael Jackson, AFP
A verdict in Mr Jackson's court case is expected soon
A Windows e-mail virus is trying to ensnare victims by claiming that Michael Jackson has attempted suicide, say computer security firms.
The message hopes to catch people's attention because of the huge interest in the on-going child abuse trial.
The fake message contains a web link that supposedly links to Mr Jackson's suicide note.
But anyone clicking on the link will have their PC invaded by a virus that gives others access to that machine.
The message was first discovered early on 10 June and already anti-virus companies have seen many copies of the e-mail circulating online.
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
Caroline Theriault, Sophos
Like many recent Windows viruses the malicious message does not use a technical trick or loophole to infect machines. Instead it relies on tricking users into infecting themselves.
The badly-spelled message - its subject line is "Suicidal attempt" - claims that the suicide attempt was in reaction to the stress of the trial. A verdict is due in the case soon.
Those who click on the link in the fake e-mail to see the supposed suicide note will get a message suggesting that the site hosting it is busy.
"That may not surprise people who think it might contain genuine breaking news about Michael Jackson," said Carole Theriault, security consultant for security firm Sophos.
Ms Theriault said the busy message is a diversionary tactic because, unseen, a virus is being downloaded on to a user's machine.
The virus downloaded is a variant of the Borobt-Gen trojan which gives the virus' creator a backdoor into infected machines.
"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," said Ms Theriault.
She urged users to be wary of clicking on links or opening attachments in unsolicited e-mail messages.