Feeds

Scammers skirt spam shields with help from Adobe Flash

The Viagra two step

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Online scammers have found a new way to skirt anti-spam filters, this time by making use of Adobe Flash files hosted on free websites.

Spam messages with innocuous-looking content contain links to Flash-based files on ImageShack.com and elsewhere, according to a report from anti-spam service MessageLabs. Then commands embedded in the files redirect the recipient to sites that punt Viagra, work-at-home offers and free software updates.

The technique allows spammers to bypass content filters employed by many anti-spam products, which immediately nix messages that contain links to dodgy sites. Because popular sites such as ImageShack are whitelisted, use of the Flash file allows spammers to bypass the filter but still lure marks to sites that try to bilk them or trick them into installing malware.

"It seems a lot of the free image websites out there will quite happily accept a Flash file and attempt to display it," says Matt Sergeant, senior anti-spam technologist for MessageLabs. "The spammers basically get a free ride to bypass URL blocking."

As the series of images below show, the technique is being used to lure users to medsplacesuch.com, a site that claims to be an online pharmacy. It's also being used to trick users into installing software known as Antivirus XP 2008 (which we assume is a variation of a diabolical piece of malware also known as XP Antivirus 2008), and to a work-at-home site claimed to be operated by a company called Retoneva.

Spam with link to Flash file on ImageShack

Step 1: Spam with link to Flash file on ImageShack

Flash file contains code redirecting mark to dodgy site

Step 2: Flash file contains code redirecting mark to dodgy site

Mark is delivered to online pharmacy page

Step 3: Mark is delivered to online pharmacy page

Sergent said ImageShack has so far done a commendable job of removing malicious files once they are brought to the attention of employees in its abuse department. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
Regin: The super-spyware the security industry has been silent about
NSA fingered as likely source of complex malware family
You stupid BRICK! PCs running Avast AV can't handle Windows fixes
Fix issued, fingers pointed, forums in flames
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
HACKERS can DELETE SURVEILLANCE DVRS remotely – report
Hikvision devices wide open to hacking, claim securobods
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
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.
Driving business with continuous operational intelligence
Introducing an innovative approach offered by ExtraHop for producing continuous operational intelligence.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
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?