When the bombs went off at the Boston Marathon last year I was in Vancouver, in a room filled with technology executives from some of Canada’s largest companies. As always, computer security had been among the items on the agenda, but the tragedy in the U.S. pushed it immediately to the top of the list. At the time, though, we had no idea how quickly the cyber criminals were capitalizing on the bad news.
This week Cisco Systems, which makes the hardware and software that runs big corporate networks, released its annual Security Report. The research is based on all the web and e-mail data gathered during routine monitoring of the products and services Cisco offers. According to the report, spam relating to the Boston Marathon bombing made up to 40 per cent of all unsolicited e-mail messages delivered worldwide on April 17, 2013. Even worse? A lot of people clicked on those messages, and their computers were almost instantly inflected with malicious software, or malware, that could steal passwords of other personal information.