Web criminals have targeted the Israel-Palestine conflict in their latest attempt to spread an “SSL Stealer” Trojan that captures financial and personal information about computer users.

The RSA has warned of what it describes as a “social engineering” website that uses a fake copy of CNN.com to lure victims into downloading the malicious software and exposing them to both personal and financial fraud.

The scam, which was hosted in China, has since been closed down although up to 80,000 people were thought to have been sent phishing emails linking to the infected site.

The emails gave recipients the impression that they were a genuine CNN news alert reporting on the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, with users encouraged to follow a link containing “graphic and striking” images and videos from the warzone.

Users were then directed to a website designed in the style of CNN.com, although the site itself has no connection with CNN or its parent company Time Warner, before being told that they require an update of the Adobe Flash Player plug-in. The link contained in this message initiates a download of the Trojan software.

The attack demonstrates how quickly many online criminals are exploiting public interest in news and current events to distribute various forms of malware and the advice to users is to remain vigilant over such attacks and be particularly suspicious of unexpected or unsolicited email messages.

For added security, ensure that you install and update an antivirus software program that protects against spyware and Trojans as well as providing protection from phishing attacks.

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to our top stories.

If you want to subscribe to our monthly newsletter, please submit the form below.