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Ebola scams spreading online

Ebola scams spreading online

There's a nasty Ebola virus spreading by email, but this one targets your computer to make it very sick.

One email that claims to be from the World Health Organization includes a dangerous malware file that is labeled as Ebola safety tips. Do not fall for this scam.

According to the New York Times, when the file is opened, it installs a virus on the user's computer that evades anti-virus protections.

The program can do everything from grab shots off the victim’s webcam, record sounds from their computer’s microphone, take control of their desktop remotely, modify and upload files and steal passwords.

There's also a new version that claims to be from the Mexican government with an urgent update about the state of the Ebola outbreak in Mexico. I'll repeat: Do not open that email, either.

Technology security company Trustwave reports that copycat Ebola-themed emails are spreading as well.

The emails, which contain subject lines like “You won’t believe what Obamacare & Ebola have in common” and “First GMO foods, now Ebola. What Obama doesn’t want you to know” are not as malicious as those purporting to be from the World Health Organization or Mexican government, but a nuisance nevertheless.

It's a sad fact of our modern age that whenever there's a public crisis, lowlifes will try to take advantage of it for their own benefit. It's sad but true. Remember the companies selling fake Ebola cures that I told you about last week? 

You have to prepare yourself to separate real information from scams to keep your information safe.

But why might you receive these malicious emails in the first place? As I said before, the sad truth is that the longer you have any particular email address, the more likely you are to receive spam.

In this latest scam, here are two of the malicious emails claiming to contain important Ebola information.

This is the message supposedly from The World Health Organization with Ebola tips.

Ebola soam email 1

This message claims to be an update on the Ebola outbreak in Mexico from the Mexican government.

Ebola spam email 2

So notice that these emails actually have logos from the organizations they pretend to be from and actually look pretty official. Do you think you might have fallen for these scams? Well follow along and I'll show you the secrets to identifying scam emails from the real ones.

Your first best defense against these or any malware email is to just not open it. How can you tell if an email is potentially dangerous to you and your systems? Here are the key things you should look for to protect yourself.

First, take a look at the sender email address. The name will probably say something generic like World Health Organization. But, you want to look at the email address next to that. Fake emails generally use an email address that doesn't match up with the organization the sender is claiming to represent. The WHO website is who.int, so emails it's sending out should come from there. For instance, the WHO email address you'd contact to receive official publications is publications@who.int.

I received a phishing email from "Apple" last month and the sender email address was a dead giveaway. Click here to take a look at that bogus email to learn about more warning signs to look for.

You should also keep your eyes out for misspellings, too. Many spam emails are hastily put together and contain spelling and grammar errors. A huge organization like WHO likely has copywriters on staff to double and triple check official emails, so to see a bunch of errors is a definite red flag.

And, most importantly, never open attachments from any email address you don't know. Even if the sender is claiming to be a legit organization, steer clear of any attachments if you have any reason to believe it might be a fake. Only accept attachments from trusted contacts with whom you're comfortable. If WHO really was sending out tips, it would likely include them in the body of the email, not as an attached document.

Looking for REAL Ebola prevention tips? Click here to visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's official Ebola website.

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