Feeds

Hackers debut spam and virus sandwich

Stock spam points to drive-by download

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

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. ®

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Infosec geniuses hack a Canon PRINTER and install DOOM
Internet of Stuff securo-cockups strike yet again
'Speargun' program is fantasy, says cable operator
We just might notice if you cut our cables
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
Greater dev access to iOS 8 will put us AT RISK from HACKERS
Knocking holes in Apple's walled garden could backfire, says securo-chap
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.