Hackers spread virus with swine flu vaccine offer; CDC addresses rumors

BOSTON — Hackers are spreading a vicious computer virus through spam e-mail messages that urge recipients to visit a bogus Web site offering vaccinations to protect them against another virus — the one that causes swine flu, Reuters reported Dec. 1.

The e-mail purports to be from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, directing them to what looks like an official government website to fill out a vaccination form, said researchers from security firms Symantec Corp and AppRiver.

Security researchers said they began seeing millions of spam messages Dec. 1 as part of a scheme to infect computers with malicious software that lets hackers take control of computers.

The hacker-controlled site then automatically downloads malicious software onto a victim's PC.

Once in control of the computer, the hackers can use a compromised machine to commit identity theft, attack other computers or turn the PC into a spam server.

Also, the CDC addressed rumors that it is sending e-mails about a governmental registration program linked to the H1N1 vaccination.

These e-mails are not from the CDC — they are fraudulent e-mails referring to a CDC-sponsored vaccination program, the agency said in a press release. They are spam e-mails designed by computer hackers to spread a computer virus.

The messages request that users must create a personal H1N1 (swine flu) vaccination profile at The message then states that anyone who has reached the age of 18 has to have his/her personal vaccination profile there.

The CDC has NOT implemented a state vaccination program requiring registration on Users who click on the e-mail are at risk of having malicious code installed on their system.

CDC reminds users to take the following steps to reduce the risk of being a victim of a phishing attack:

Do not follow unsolicited links and do not open or respond to unsolicited e-mail messages.

Use caution when visiting un-trusted Web sites.

Use caution when entering personal information online.