Feeds

'Obama quits' spam recruits zombie drones

President-Elect heading for office, not Pacific island

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

Scammers are capitalising on worldwide interest about Barack Obama's inauguration via a spam email campaign that claims the Illinois senator turned prez44 plans to turn down the office he fought so long to obtain.

The messages falsely claim the President-Elect doesn’t want the responsibility of saving a "sinking ship". This sensationalist message, like many others before it, some of which even claimed that WWIII had broken out in the Middle East, are designed to trick the credulous into visiting a fraudulent website that harbours malicious code.

Prospective marks clicking onto sites promoted via the spam campaign are redirected to lookalike Obama campaign websites designed to trick the gullible into downloading malicious code that turns compromised clients into zombie drones on the Waledec botnet, according to security researchers at Marshal8e6. The bogus websites - with domains including "greatobama" or "superobama" - contain links to a file called “barakspeech.exe”, or similar.

Users who run this file on an unprotected Windows PC get pwned. The fraudulent emails associated with the campaign come with subject lines such as "Amazing News".

"The web site that these spam messages link to looks official and convincing at first glance," said Phil Hay, senior threat analyst for the Marshal8e6 TRACE Labs. "Closer examination reveals numerous spelling and grammatical errors on the site which could alert wary email users that this is a trick.

"Unfortunately we expect that many users who are lured to these sites will invariably click on the link and infect themselves."

The Waledec botnet first appeared on the scene in December 2008, taking up the Storm botnet’s stock in trade of spreading malware by tricking users into visiting sites containing malware promoted via sensational news headlines or other social engineering tricks. Some researchers reckon the gang behind the Storm botnet are also behind Waledec.

More details of the attack, including a list of the spoofed domains and screen shots, can be found in a write-up by Panda Security here.

Back to reality

Back in the real world plans to stage Obama's historic inauguration are proceeding. The LA Times reports that security officials are creating the most "high-tech security bubble ever" ever to protect the incoming president. Metal detectors will be in place to screen ticket holders. All inaugural personnel will be put through criminal background checks.

Sharpshooters will be posted on rooftops. There'll be surveillance of metro lines and of the crowd attending the event. A number of mobile command posts have been established. The FBI has a weapons-of-mass-destruction response truck on standby and Obama himself will ride in an armoured limo said to be capable of withstanding even rocket-propelled grenade attack.

Despite all these precautions, security experts are still wary of the possibility of a lone individual or small group getting into the event and causing disruption, even though Obama and his family will be very well protected.

Those unable to watch the event will be able to look at live streaming feeds on the internet, if everything goes to plan. Computerworld reports that some experts are expecting anything between jittery video to a huge traffic surge that will slow internet performance. Warnings of this type are commonly issued by bandwidth optimisation or workplace filtering firms in the run-up to major sporting events, such as the Olympics and World Cup.

Real problems almost never arise. Even in the worse case scenario, internet surfers interested in the Obama inauguration can listen to the inauguration line on the radio or TV in the vast majority of locations where broadband internet viewing is even an option. ®

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

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
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
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
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
Putin: Crack Tor for me and I'll make you a MILLIONAIRE
Russian Interior Ministry offers big pile o' roubles for busting pro-privacy browser
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
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.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.