Feeds

Malware writers think global, act local

Mono-linguists need not apply

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Online miscreants are beefing up their cultural outreach skills.

According to a new report from McAfee, attacks are increasingly being tailored to victims in specific geographical regions. Spam, phishing emails and even malware now address their potential victims in their native tongues, often with flawless grammar. Attackers have also become familiar with local culture, including sports and other pastimes, and often incorporate them into their ploys to further the chances of tricking their Marks.

"We really wouldn't have had this conversation two years ago," said Dave Marcus, a security research and communications manager at McAfee. Back then, "the distribution of malware was very English language centric."

As a result, spam and malware targeting Germans are likely to target their enthusiasm for the World Cup. Attacks on Japanese, meanwhile, are likely to piggyback on the popularity in that country of Winny, a P2P file sharing program. And Chinese scams will likely involve gold farming, which refers to the harvesting of virtual valuables in games such as World of Warcraft.

The multicultural celebration comes as more parts of the world connect to the internet for the first time. With a larger proportion of non-English speakers than ever before, it makes sense attackers are trying to find new, more effective ways to pwn their machines and steal their banking credentials.

McAfee's findings, which are were published Thursday, dovetail with recent research from Thomas Holt, a professor of criminal justice at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. It found that the marketplace for rootkits, Trojans and other malware increasingly transcends national boundaries. A title first released in Spain may be appropriated by a crime syndicate in China, which adds support and other features tailored to the local language.

The trend toward localized threats is particularly important for international travelers, who need to adjust their defenses as they move from one country to the next.

When Marcus is in the US, he says he never receives spam on his mobile phone. But as soon as he travels the UK, he immediately receives fraudulent SMS messages, and when in Tokyo, it's not unusual for him to receive spam sent over Bluetooth connections.

"It's very, very localized, and that's not to say I can't deal with it," he says. Still, he adds, "I will want to gather some of that local information." ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SMASH the Bash bug! Apple and Red Hat scramble for patch batches
'Applying multiple security updates is extremely difficult'
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
Hackers thrash Bash Shellshock bug: World races to cover hole
Update your gear now to avoid early attacks hitting the web
Oracle SHELLSHOCKER - data titan lists unpatchables
Database kingpin lists 32 products that can't be patched (yet) as GNU fixes second vuln
Who.is does the Harlem Shake
Blame it on LOLing XSS terroristas
Researchers tell black hats: 'YOU'RE SOOO PREDICTABLE'
Want to register that domain? We're way ahead of you.
Stunned by Shellshock Bash bug? Patch all you can – or be punished
UK data watchdog rolls up its sleeves, polishes truncheon
Ello? ello? ello?: Facebook challenger in DDoS KNOCKOUT
Gets back up again after half an hour though
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
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?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.