Feeds

Hackers debut spam and virus sandwich

Stock spam points to drive-by download

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Hackers have combined spam and malware together in a single email threat.

Email security services firm MessageLabs has intercepted emails that are both spam and links to download viruses. Cyber-criminals have long used email viruses to create botnets to send spam, but this is the first time MessageLabs has seen virus links hidden within spam.

Since 14 April, MessageLabs has stopped thousands of spam stock pump-and-dump emails which also contained links to websites hosting malware. Purporting to be a screen saver, the malware then drops the Zhelatin MeSpam engine onto compromised PCs.

Mark Sunner, chief security analyst at MessageLabs, commented: "Why use two emails when just one will do? Now we are seeing the bad guys layer on the threats – as if it's not enough to just scam someone and fill their inbox with junk email, why not also infect and take control of their computer at the same time."

"HTTP has replaced SMTP [email] as the path of least resistance," he added.

Stealth

Large scale virus outbreaks have almost become a thing of the past - hackers have increasingly sought to trick users into visiting websites containing malicious code rather than open infectious email attachments. This means that even as spam volumes increase, the volume of malware contaminated email is dropping.

MessageLabs reckons 83.6 per cent of email traffic circulating the internet in April was spam. Meanwhile, the global ratio of viruses in email traffic - from new and previously unknown bad sources destined for valid recipients - was one in 145.5 (0.69 percent), a decrease of 0.003 percent since March.

Email-based attacks are becoming more targeted. Last month MessageLabs intercepted 716 emails in 249 separate targeted attacks aimed at 216 different organisations. Of these, almost 200 were one-on-one targeted attacks where the tailored attack comprised a single email designed to infiltrate an organisation. Infected PowerPoint files are becoming almost as common as infected Word files. By comparison, only one or two such email attacks per day were recorded in the same period last year. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
NOT OK GOOGLE: Android images can conceal code
It's been fixed, but hordes won't have applied the upgrade
Apple grapple: Congress kills FBI's Cupertino crypto kybosh plan
Encryption would lead us all into a 'dark place', claim G-Men
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.