Sen. Barack Obama’s election night acceptance speech was intended to be a call for a renewed spirit of national unity, but the president-elect also unknowingly provided criminals with a new tool for perpetrating Internet fraud, reports the Birmingham News. Computer science and criminal justice students at the University of Alabama at Birmingham uncovered a series of fraudulent e-mails that claim to link to video of that speech, but could put a visitor’s personal information in the hands of criminals. According to Gary Warner, UAB’s director of research in computer forensics, the spam links to Web sites registered Tuesday in China.
Visiting the Web site requires the user to install an Adobe Flash Player to watch the speech. Installing it will cause all user IDs and passwords, whether for online banking, online stores, e-mail or even chat programs, to be sent to the criminal’s computer. Adobe Flash Player is a regularly used computer program that has been co-opted by those running the scam. “We’ve already seen more than 300 copies of this spam e-mail,” Warner said, “and we’re very concerned that people who missed Tuesday night’s speech may follow the link and infect their computer.” Warner’s students have determined that the person behind the scam is operating out of Ukraine and uses Chinese domain names.