THOUSANDS OF EMAIL USERS have been hit by a sick cancer email hoax that aims to infect the recipients' computers with Zeus malware.
The email has already hit thousands of inboxes across the UK, and looks like it was sent by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). It features the subject line "Important blood analysis result".
However, NICE has warned that it did not send the malicious emails, and is urging users not to open them.
NICE chief executive Sir Andrew Dillon said, "A spam email purporting to come from NICE is being sent to members of the public regarding cancer test results.
"This email is likely to cause distress to recipients since it advises that ‘test results' indicate they may have cancer. This malicious email is not from NICE and we are currently investigating its origin. We take this matter very seriously and have reported it to the police."
The hoax message requests that users download an attachment that purportedly contains the results of the faux blood analysis.
Security analysis firm Appriver has since claimed that the scam email is carrying Zeus malware that if installed will attempt to steal users' credentials and take over their PCs.
Appriver senior security specialist Fred Touchette warned, "If the attachment is unzipped and executed the user may see a quick error window pop up and then disappear on their screen.
"What they won't see is the downloader then taking control of their PC. It immediately begins checking to see if it is being analysed, by making long sleep calls, and checking to see if it is running virtually or in a debugger.
"Next it begins to steal browser cookies and MS Outlook passwords from the system registry. The malware in turn posts this data to a server at 22.214.171.124 with the command /ppp/ta.php, and punches a hole in the firewall to listen for further commands on UDP ports 7263 and 4400." µ
Sign up for INQbot – a weekly roundup of the best from the INQ