Feeds

Scammers skirt spam shields with help from Adobe Flash

The Viagra two step

SANS - Survey on application security programs

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. ®

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
Parent gabfest Mumsnet hit by SSL bug: My heart bleeds, grins hacker
Natter-board tells middle-class Britain to purée its passwords
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Web data BLEEDOUT: Users to feel the pain as Heartbleed bug revealed
Vendors and ISPs have work to do updating firmware - if it's possible to fix this
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Mounties always get their man: Heartbleed 'hacker', 19, CUFFED
Canadian teen accused of raiding tax computers using OpenSSL bug
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.