12 March 2014

The Australian Federal Police has warned of email spam in which recipients are threatened with being targeted by a paid hitman.

This is a well-known scam that regularly circulates online. Stay Smart Online has warned about this type of scam before, distributed by text messages.

It is a fairly unsophisticated type of scam, which should immediately raise your suspicions.

Spammers tend to reuse and recycle messages if they are successful. They spam messages in huge volumes to random email addresses and only need a tiny percentage to attract a response to justify the effort.

Responding to the message confirms your email address to the spammers, meaning you can then be targeted for further malicious activity.

If you have vulnerable friends or relatives, you should ensure they are aware of these types of scams.

If you have or do inadvertently reply to these kinds of emails, do not panic. Just be aware that your address may become known to the spammer, it could also be added to lists that can circulate online, and that you may be targeted by more spam messages in the future. These could be more sophisticated or include malicious links or attachments.

Remember; be suspicious of any unsolicited message, whether it be via email, SMS, social media or otherwise.

Do not click links or open attachments in unsolicited emails or messages. Your best advice is to simply delete it.

Ensure your security software is up to date. This will help protect you against any malware that may be attached or downloaded by clicking links to malicious websites.

If you think you might be affected by malware, use your security software to run a scan of your computer. You may also choose to seek specific technical advice from your local support provider.

If you are uncertain about an email you can always cross check its information, by independently sourcing the organisation’s website or phone contact details.

More information

The AFP’s post about the scam is available on its Facebook page.

Stay Smart Online offers good advice on managing spam.

Feedback

Thank you to those subscribers who have provided feedback to our Alerts and Newsletters. We are very interested in your feedback and where possible take on board your suggestions or requests.

Disclaimer

This information has been prepared by Enex TestLab for the Department of Communications ('the Department'). It was accurate and up to date at the time of publishing.

This information is general information only and is intended for use by private individuals and small to medium sized businesses. If you are concerned about a specific cyber security issue you should seek professional advice.

The Commonwealth, Enex TestLab, and all other persons associated with this advisory accept no liability for any damage, loss or expense incurred as a result of the provision of this information, whether by way of negligence or otherwise.

Nothing in this information (including the listing of a person or organisation or links to other web sites) should be taken as an endorsement of a particular product or service.

Please note that third party views or recommendations included in this information do not reflect the views of the Commonwealth, or indicate its commitment to a particular course of action. The Commonwealth also cannot verify the accuracy of any third party material included in this information.

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