Computer users are being warned that online criminals are using the recent outbreak of the H1N1 swine flu virus as a means of distributing malicious software and selling bogus “cures”.

Following the outbreak of swine flu in Mexico and numerous subsequent cases worldwide, a number of websites and email campaigns have emerged which purport to provide cures and treatment for the virus.

Those sites, it is claimed, are providing bogus treatments whilst computer security experts believe that many others may be being used as a means of distributing malicious software.

AFP reported than an alert posted late Thursday at the US Food and Drug Administration warned that scammers have launched websites promoting bogus products “that claim to prevent, treat, or cure” the H1N1 flu virus.

The FDA said it is “informing offending websites that they must take prompt action to correct and/or remove promotions of these fraudulent products or face immediate enforcement action.”

Users are being urged to look out for emails with terms such as “Swine Flu Outbreak!” and “Madonna Catches Swine Flu!” in their subject line – terms which have been heavily featured in the global media.

Japan’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases issued a warning on Thursday that a suspicious Japanese-language email message with an attached file called “information on swine flu” had been circulating in cyberspace.

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