Feeds

Scammers skirt spam shields with help from Adobe Flash

The Viagra two step

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Regin: The super-spyware the security industry has been silent about
NSA fingered as likely source of complex malware family
Why did it take antivirus giants YEARS to drill into super-scary Regin? Symantec responds...
FYI this isn't just going to target Windows, Linux and OS X fans
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
'Regin': The 'New Stuxnet' spook-grade SOFTWARE WEAPON described
'A degree of technical competence rarely seen'
Home Office: Fancy flogging us some SECRET SPY GEAR?
If you do, tell NOBODY what it's for or how it works
Syrian Electronic Army in news site 'hack' POP-UP MAYHEM
Gigya redirect exploit blamed for pop-rageous ploy
prev story

Whitepapers

Go beyond APM with real-time IT operations analytics
How IT operations teams can harness the wealth of wire data already flowing through their environment for real-time operational intelligence.
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.
Why CIOs should rethink endpoint data protection in the age of mobility
Assessing trends in data protection, specifically with respect to mobile devices, BYOD, and remote employees.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Seattle children’s accelerates Citrix login times by 500% with cross-tier insight
Seattle Children’s is a leading research hospital with a large and growing Citrix XenDesktop deployment. See how they used ExtraHop to accelerate launch times.