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Hackers disguise malware as emailed docs from smart printers

Clever ruse to catch out office workers

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Hackers have developed a new ruse designed to trick recipients into opening malicious email messages that come loaded with malware.

The trick involves sending emails that pose as scanned documents from office printers or scanners, forwarded by a work colleague. The unlikely source of attack is liable to fool many users, net security firm Symantec warns.

"The idea of an office printer sending malware is perhaps an unlikely one, as printers and scanners were not actually used in these attacks, but perhaps this sense of security is all that is required for such a socially engineered attack to succeed in the future," said Paul Wood, Senior Intelligence Analyst, Symantec.cloud (formerly MessageLabs).

Symantec said in its September 2011 report that spam levels in the UK have hovered around 75.5 per cent for the month, a decrease of 1.1 percentage points when compared with its August 2011 report. One in 129.9 emails (0.77 per cent) was blocked as malicious during September. Spam emails containing links to compromised websites containing vulnerable WordPress installations rose during the month.

Its September report said Symantec had each day identified an average of 3,474 websites harbouring malware, an increase of 1 per cent from August 2011.

Spammers, like malware pedlars before them, are increasingly using JavaScript-redirection techniques, Symantec reports.

"For spammers, hosting simple JavaScript obfuscation pages on free hosting sites can increase the lifetime of that site before the site operator realises the page is being used for malicious activity,” Wood commented. "JavaScript is popularly used for redirecting visitors of a compromised website to the spammers' landing page. While some of these techniques have been common in malware distribution for some time, spammers are increasingly using them." ®

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