The FBI is warning computer users to be on the alert for virus-laden emails that trick consumers into opening them by promising to show images or video of bin Laden's recent shooting by U.S. Navy SEALS in Pakistan.
And President Barack Obama's decision not to release photos of the slain terrorist's corpse should make users doubly suspicious of any such emails.These mails, the FBI warns, may contain a virus that could take control of your computer and steal sensitive data, including your name, address, Social Security number, tax records, passwords, and bank account and credit card information.
Malicious software, also known as "malware" or "badware," embeds itself in computers and spreads itself via email contact lists, infecting the machines of friends, colleagues and family members.
The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), urges computer users never to open unsolicited emails or click on links in these spam emails -- even if the sender is familiar.
In order to protect themselves against badware such as the bin Laden emails, the IC3 says consumers should make sure they're running updated firewall and anti-virus software on their computers.
The IC3 recommends the public also do the following:
- Adjust the privacy settings on social networking sites you visit to make it more difficult for people you know and don't know to post content to your page. Even a "friend" can unwittingly pass on multimedia that's actually malicious software.
- Never download software to view videos. These can infect your computer.
- Read your emails carefully. Fraudulent messages often contain misspellings, poor grammar and nonstandard English. Report emails you receive that purport to be from the FBI. Criminals often use the FBI's name and seal to add legitimacy to their fraudulent schemes. It's important to note that the FBI does not send unsolicited e-mails to the public.