Cyber criminals are taking advantage of swine flu fears with e-mails promising news on the illness which then infect computers with a virus, a Spanish computer security firm warned Friday.
The e-mails invite recipients to open a document with information claiming the H1N1 flu virus was developed by pharmaceutical firms seeking to make huge profits from the outbreak, Pandasecurity said in a statement.
But if the document is opened, a virus is installed on the person's computer which can steal personal information like bank account data.
The amount of e-mails containing the virus circulating around the Internet exploded on Friday, the statement said.
Asked in a interview published in Spain last week about conspiracy theories that major pharmaceutical firms are behind the swine flu outbreak, the head of the World Health Organisation, Margaret Chan, said she "could not imagine" that they would be capable of generating a pandemic.
"How can anyone believe that laboratories could create a disease. There have been many (pandemics) over time. They happen, that is it," she told XLSemanal, the weekend magazine supplement of daily ABC.
The WHO said Friday that at least 3,205 people have died from swine flu since the new A(H1N1) virus was uncovered in April in Mexico.
It has estimated that as many as two billion people could become infected over the next two years -- nearly one-third of the world's population.
Swine flu is the first flu pandemic in 40 years. The last one in 1968 killed about one million people.
(c) 2009 AFP
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