Computer users are being urged to be on guard for a bogus e-mail that pretends to offer news updates about Hurricane Katrina as a means to infect their PCs. The malicious e-mail gives a brief news bulletin on the disaster before urging people to click "read more" and be taken to the full story on a website.
Yet once on the website, a reader's computer will receive a virus.
People are also being told to watch out for fraudulent e-mail scams pretending to raise cash for Katrina victims.
The separate virus and fake donations bogus e-mails have been discovered by computer security firms SophosLabs and Websense Security Labs.
They are similar to previous fraudulent e-mails connected to last year's Indian Ocean Tsunami. Delete e-mail
Under the virus scam, the hackers send a "Trojan" virus to the victim's computer, which can give them complete access to, and control of, its files.
While the user's computer is not infected if he or she simply reads the e-mail without opening the attachment, people are urged to delete such e-mails immediately.
It is also recommended that people check that their virus-protection is up to date.
To avoid being conned out of money, people are being urged to double-check the validity of any charity which asks via e-mail for a Katrina donation.
"The hurricane is a dreadful natural disaster, and it's sickening to think that hackers are prepared to exploit the horrendous situation in an attempt to break into computers for the purposes of spamming, extortion and theft," said SophosLabs senior technology consultant Graham Cluley.