The news report entices victims to click on an attached Word document and read the latest about the tragedy.
However, opening the Word document attached triggers an exploit which silently downloads a Trojan horse (known as Troj/MalDoc-Fam) onto the user's computer.
According to Sophos, hackers can then use this to steal sensitive and confidential information for financial gain and to commit identity theft.
"Over the last few weeks, we've already seen several examples of cybercriminals trying to exploit the natural disasters suffered by China and Burma, and it seems there's no end to their tactics," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos
Computer users should be aware not to click on unsolicited emails, no matter how tempting the subject line or content, said Sophos.
Below is an example of the spam email:
BEIJING, May 20 (Xinhua) -- The death toll from the earthquake in southwest China's Sichuan Province has risen to 34,074 nationwide as of 2p.m. Saturday, while 198,347 people were injured, according to the Information
Cybercriminals feed off China earthquake disaster
By Staff Writers on May 22, 2008 4:41PM