Expert at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) have revealed that they began tracking the celebrity-focused spam early on Jun 30.
"We've been tracking the cyber criminals behind this spam and the associated virus for many weeks, but it is just today that they have shifted their strategy by embedding their virus into an e-mail that claims to link you to a Web site that will reveal Michael Jackson's killer," said Gary Warner, UAB's director of research in computer forensics.
"The spam related to this virus has taken many forms, including e-cards, shipment tracking links and, most recently, a fake update to Microsoft Outlook, but with the high interest in Michael Jackson's death the cyber criminals decided to change their delivery method to capitalize on that," he added.
The message in the Jackson virus spam reads "Michael Jackson was killed... but who killed Michael Jackson."
Warner said that anyone who clicks on the message won't find an answer to the question.
"If you click on that e-mail and go to the page the cyber criminals have linked to the message, your computer is immediately infected with malware," he said.
He warned that the malware is capable of stealing bank account information and passwords from computer hard drives.
The virus also will redirect certain Google searches performed on an infected computer, meaning the malware inserts links to other virus-infected pages into the top positions of search results.
That, according to Warner, means that search results that unsuspecting users would otherwise think valid are actually portals to other virus programs and malware.