A computer virus has made use of devastating storms sweeping across Europe to infect email systems and spread rapidly throughout the world, a Finnish IT security company has said.
The virus appeared in emails with the subject line "230 dead as storm batters Europe" and attachments bearing names such as "Full Clip.exe", "Full Story.exe", "Read More.exe" and "Video.exe".
The program infects computers when users click on the message.
"A significant network attack was launched globally in the early hours of Thursday morning using news of a European storm as the hook to lure the unsuspecting," anti-virus programme producer F-Secure said in a statement.
"What is significant here ... is the timely nature of this assault in relation to the European storm. Gangs are clearly using every technique and even tragedies like these to gain access to vulnerable machines," chief research officer at F-Secure, Mikko Hyppoenen, said.
The virus was detected in Asia on Friday, where it was likely to have been created, F-Secure said.
"The likely intention is to create a new raft of zombie computers to steal information and to further propagate large-scale spam (unwanted email)," according to F-Secure.
The "Trojan" virus creates a backdoor in the computer that can be exploited later by the program authors.
Countries across Europe on Thursday and Friday were hit by devastating storms that killed at least 40 people and left widespread damage and disruption to travel and power supplies.