Spammers are always looking for new ways to lure in victims and some are using tragedies like the Boston marathon bombings or the Oklahoma tornadoes to profit from others’ misfortune.

Just 24 hours after the Boston marathon bombings, malware spammers hit the Internet sending out millions of emails designed to infect computers. The subject lines promised exclusive video, but when you clicked on the message to watch the footage, your computer was being infected with malware at the same time.

“When you click on it a number of different things can happen to you. It can give you a download, but that download is malware put into your machine in the means of a Trojan - which can then start gathering your identity and things like that,” said Tony Anscombe, senior security evangelist at AVG Technologies.

Malware can steal your passwords directly from your browser. It can also send emails from your computer and download other private information – all for financial gain. A recent study found spammers cost society $20 billion and gain $200 million in combined annual revenue.  

When it comes to protecting yourself, Anscombe reminds people to think twice before opening email and trust your gut.

“A lot of is human intuition. If you see that message coming from your friend, obviously don't actually click on it. Does your friend normally send you information like that? Is it in a link? Does it look as though it would come from them? The answer is probably not,” said Anscombe.  

If in doubt, pick up the phone and call your friend. Anscombe also recommends always getting your news from trusted news sources.

And finally, your best line of defense is some anti-virus software. The problem is many people don't keep their software up to date and ignore update reminder boxes that pop up on your computer. You really need to make sure your software is current, because these threats are constantly morphing into something new.