Hackers have taken advantage of the latest big news story to spread malware-containing emails across the net.

Using the subject line “230 dead as storm batters Europe”, hackers are luring people into opening an attachment called Video.exe, Read More.exe, Full Clip.exe, or Full Story.exe, said Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at F-Secure.

Analysts are surprised at how quickly the virus appeared, because spamming started during the storms.

The virus, Small.DAM, opens a backdoor on the PC that gives full access to hackers, who then look for personal data like bank account numbers and credit card details. Then they'll use the computer in a botnet, a network of computers that is used to send out more spam.

People's natural curiousity about major news stories is often exploited, with one well-known scam focusing on Hurricane Katrina and promising regular news updates.