Feeds

Florist kicks up a stink about false phish alarm

Bloomin' MessageLabs

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

A florist is complaining that MessageLabs wrongly identified emails it was sending as infected with a computer virus.

The November edition of the monthly newsletter email sent out by Arena Flowers was wrongly identified as a phishing email. That in itself would be bad enough, but MessageLabs compounded the problem by attaching a explanation to customers that implied the florists were distributing a computer virus, specifically identified as a PayPal phishing attempt.

The MessageLabs Email Security System discovered a possible virus or unauthorised code (such as a Trojan) in an email sent to you.

Possible MalWare 'Exploit/Phishing-paypal-1054' found in '7782603_2X_PM3_EMQ_MH__message.htm'. Heuristics score: 202

Will Wynne, managing director of Arena Flowers, related the tale of woe in a blog posting here.

"It was a complete, 100 per cent misdiagnosis by MessageLabs, as they subsequently confirmed. We learnt that the reason that our email got hammered is that we put the word 'PayPal' into the subject line yet we are not PayPal. Blimey. Sophisticated stuff.

"We had PayPal in our subject line to let our customers know that they could win £10k cash if they paid for any order with PayPal during PayPal's very generous 10th birthday promotion," Wynne added.

A sales rep from MessageLabs was one of those who subscribed to the newsletter. He sent an email to Arena asking to be taken off the distribution list that suggested Arena might benefit from its services.

Wynne claimed sales dropped 50 per cent in the week after the incident. The email newsletter goes out to 40,000 Arena Flowers customers every month.

Nobody from MessageLabs was available to discuss the story at the time of going to press. But in a statement from the email filtering firm downplayed the impact of the snafu.

"Our antivirus team identified the email as a possible phishing email because it included a hyperlink with PayPal in its name that did not link back to the PayPal site. Once MessageLabs was alerted to the error, we resolved the issue." ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu
Just slapping a patched OpenSSL on a machine ain't going to cut it, we're told
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.