Hackers are exploiting the recent Virginia Tech University massacre to spread malware and infect computers, security experts have warned.

Email messages were spammed to users claiming to include camera phone footage of the shootings at the US campus where 31 people were slaughtered on Monday. The messages contained an image of the killer, Cho Seung-Hui, with a link to a Brazilian website claiming to host video clips of the murders.

However, clicking on the link downloads a malicious screensaver file that installs a Trojan on to the recipient’s machine.

“It's pretty sick that cybercriminals use tragic events in the headlines like this in their attempts to make cash,” said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. “But, sadly it's not the first time and unlikely to be the last. The hackers have no qualms about making money out of other people's misery.”