D'oh! Simpsons hit by spammers

In the week that mainstream media outlets reported on Harry Potter and the internet spoilers, another work of fiction has now fallen foul to another scourge of the Web.

The Simpsons Movie has become prey to spammers, according to e-mails intercepted by Sophos, which is hosting the image of Homer Simpson that is luring innocent computer users.

The spammed messages claim that recipients will receive a $500 Visa gift card for participating in an online survey.

Each e-mail contains a graphic of Homer Simpson sitting on his sofa wearing a Superman crop-top and y-fronts.

The professionally-cropped image asks: "Will you go see the movie The Simpsons? Take our short survey now."

Clicking on the image takes surfers to a web page branded with similar graphics of The Simpsons, which asks for a valid e-mail address.

"You would be as crazy as Krusty the Clown to enter an email address on that page," Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, said yesterday.

"Not only are your chances of receiving a gift less than zero, but you are also delivering a valid email address to a spammer on a platter."

Sophos said that this is far from the first time that cybercriminals have exploited Hollywood movie characters.

Last month, the cyber security firm discovered the 'Hairy-A worm' which infected USB drives claiming that in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" the eponymous teen wizard would die.

Similarly in May, the Yar-A Trojan horse was spammed out pretending to be a trailer for the latest "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie.

"The public's hunger for new blockbuster movies coming out of Hollywood gives cybercriminals an endless stream of riches with which to tempt the unwary," Mr Cluley said.

Sophos recommends companies protect their desktops, servers and gateways with a consolidated solution to thwart the threats of viruses, spyware, hacking, phishing and spam.

In a statement, the firm warned: "Lists of living breathing e-mail addresses are what keeps the spam industry afloat - by confirming your contact address you are helping the spammers and increasing your chances of being deluged by junk e-mail."

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