Spam emails using "swine flu" as a keyword phrase have flooded the Internet as opportunists seek to exploit concerns over the outbreak of the virus, a global cyber security firm warned Thursday.
"Spammers have quickly taken advantage of this state of alert to extend their spam campaigns," Japanese security software maker Trend Micro said in a statement issued in Madrid.
Spam emails with subject lines such as "Swine flu affects entire world" or "Swine flu epidemic" have been detected as well as those that claim to have a message from Mexican President Felipe Calderon outlining new measures that have been taken against the disease.
The emails in fact direct recipients to websites of online pharmacies that peddle remedies to treat impotence and other maladies.
"Swine virus has become a computer virus that takes advantage of fear, confusion and the interest for information available on the Web regarding the epidemic to spread mischievous codes, junk e-mails and infect computer equipments," said the firm's director for Latin America, Juan Pablo Castro.
Japan's National Institute of Infectious Diseases warned Thursday that a suspicious Japanese-language email message with an attached file called "information on swine flu" had been circulating in cyberspace.
Swine fever is believed to have killed up to 84 people in Mexico -- eight of them confirmed -- and has spread to the United States, Europe, Israel and New Zealand.
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