Feeds

Bogus Beijing earthquake reports used to spread malware

Playing with Olympic fire

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Supected botnet operators are using false reports that a fictitious earthquake near Beijing could disrupt the Olympic games to spread malware.

Samples of the bogus alert doing the rounds, featuring subject lines such as "Million dead in Chinese quake", link to a website on a .cn domain. This site claims a quake measured in at 9.0* on the Richter scale has caused millions of casualties while throwing preparations for the games into turmoil. The page contains links to a supposed video that actually downloads the Nuwar-E worm onto the Windows boxes of marks credulous enough to fall for the ruse.

Net security firm Sophos reports that the .cn domains advertised in that attack are likely to be part of a botnet. Each DNS query for the domains returns a different IP address, indicating a changing network of compromised hosts are serving up the malware.

Using topical events to punt malware is one of the oldest social engineering tricks in the book. Baiting malware traps with "news" about non-existent calamities is hardly unprecedented either.

Its unclear where the hackers behind the latest scam are based. But if they're anywhere in China they are playing with fire. Last week police in south China arrested a man accused of spreading rumors of an impending earthquake after hacking into a government website. The 19 year-old suspect has reportedly confessed to breaking into the official website of the Guangxi earthquake administration on 31 May to spread the rumour, little more than a fortnight after a real earthquake claimed an estimated 68,000 lives in Sichuan province.

The technology worker (identified only by his surname, Chen) carried out the attack out of mischief, or to have "fun" as police sources put it, official Chinese news agency Xinhua reports. Somehow we doubt he's having much fun now. ®

* The Sichuan earthquake was measured at around magnitude 8.0 on the Richter scale. Earthquakes that weight in at over 9.0 on the Richter scale are very rare. The earthquake that triggered the Indian Ocean Tsunami of December 2004 measured 9.3 on the scale and is the second highest ever recorded. So the idea that news of such a disaster would first reach recipients by spam email really beggars belief.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
One HUNDRED FAMOUS LADIES exposed NUDE online
Celebrity women victimised as Apple iCloud accounts reportedly popped
Rubbish WPS config sees WiFi router keys popped in seconds
Another day, another way in to your home router
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
NZ Justice Minister scalped as hacker leaks emails
Grab your popcorn: Subterfuge and slur disrupts election run up
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Researchers camouflage haxxor traps with fake application traffic
Honeypots sweetened to resemble actual workloads, complete with 'secure' logins
Attack flogged through shiny-clicky social media buttons
66,000 users popped by malicious Flash fudging add-on
New Snowden leak: How NSA shared 850-billion-plus metadata records
'Federated search' spaffed info all over Five Eyes chums
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.