Terrorism breeds terror, and news of terrorism breeds fear of terrorism. That’s how and why terrorism works. Now hackers are taking advantage of the new environment of fear.
Communications watchdog ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority) says it has received “numerous reports” since Sunday about fake emails purporting to come from news.com.au with the subject line ‘ISIS attacks in Sydney?’
The use of the News website address – the umbrella URL of Rupert Murdoch controlled publications in Australia – is intended to add legitimacy to the emails. It is – on the surface of it – credible, as the Murdoch media empire globally is more vocal than most of its mainstream rivals in fomenting fear of terrorism.
The use of the purported threat from ISIS is new, but the technique is very familiar, encouraging people to open attachments that contain malware.
These latest emails encourage people to open a Microsoft Word .doc or .rar file attachment by claiming the document includes details of Sydney locations that Islamic State plans to attack.
“These emails are fake and contain a malicious attachment that if opened, or clicked on, may download and install malware onto your computer,” says ACMA’s warning. “If you receive an email from news.com.au with the same or similar title, it should be deleted immediately. Do not click on any attachment in the email.”
The ACMA has been campaigning hard to alert Australians to the perils of malware, and how to avoid the. To learn more about malware and tips to protect your devices, watch the ACMA’s video. For more information visit Stay Smart Online.
ABC reports the ACMA's manager of internet security programs, Bruce Matthews, as saying that the source of the emails was unknown, and that people who receive them should delete them immediately and avoid opening any attachments.
“These sorts of emails are very common during topical events. Typically they're involved with cyber-criminals. They're seeking to install the malicious software so they can use the infected computing devices for various criminal purposes."
The emails come after news of ISIS hacks on US military social media sites (CommsWire yesterday) and are further evidence that the so-called ‘war on terror’ is now being waged on many fronts. It is perfectly suited to the online world, where the currency is information – and disinformation.