Online scammers exploiting Katrina disaster

Internet criminals wasted no time in exploiting the hurricane Katrina disaster, immediately orchestrating online donation scams and sending malicious email.

A widespread spam campaign pretends to offer breaking news about the hurricane, which struck the Gulf Coast region earlier this week. The spam tries to lure users to a bogus website that could infect their PCs with malicious code, according to anti-virus supplier Sophos.

"Once infected, the computer is under the control of the remote criminal hackers who can use it to spy, steal or cause disruption," Gregg Mastoras, Sophos senior security analyst, said in a statement.

The SANS Internet Storm Center said users should also watch out for fake emails and domains being used to collect donations for hurricane victims.

In addition to getting money through fake foundations, the fraudulent domains can steal user names and passwords and lead users to install malicious software on their PCs, according to a posting on the storm center's site.

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