Washington, DC (WLTX) -- The FBI's Cyber Division has issued an alert for users to keep an eye out for a malicious email that uses the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children as it's theme.
According to the alert, the emails come with the subject "Search for Missing Children," and have a zip file attached.
Users are warned not to open the attachment, due to the risk of compromising their computers, or networks the computers are connected to.
This risk is classified as an "Advanced Persistent Threat," or "APT," when the email and attachments are sophisticated, and difficult for network security software to detect. These emails differ from the more common attempts by hackers to compromise a network or computer, where often the sender is hunting specific information, rather than monetary gain.
Further, the APT threat is targeted specifically to users with access to corporate computer systems, banking, or other secure sensitive computer operations.
Similar emails have been linked to breach of networks containing sensitive national security information.
The attachments included in these emails give hackers the ability to seek specific information contained in the user's computer or network, as well as give them the opportunity to establish a "back door" into the computer network long-term.
The more time passes, the greater the risk. Hackers will use their back door to conceal their activity, install their own utilities to harvest information, and increase their own access privileges.
If you do receive one of the "Search for Missing Children" emails, do not open any attachments, and contact your company's network administrators for further instructions.
If you receive this email on your personal computer, do not open the attachment, immediately delete the email from your inbox, and your email's trash folder.