Feeds

Merde! Dummkopf! Google Translate used as spam cloak

Cock-doc pillmongers use tech out of Inception movie

Top three mobile application threats

Spammers are using Google Translate to disguise links to dodgy websites.

All sorts of internet pond life, particularly purveyors of blue pills purporting to pump blokes' performance between the sheets, are relying on the reputation of Google's language translation service to smuggle web links through mail filters. Security researchers at Barracuda Networks, which collects and analyses samples of spam, clocked messages attempting to defeat reputation filters using this tactic.

When a user clicks on a link in the junk mail, the web browser and Google are instructed to follow a chain of pages until the dodgy website is reached.

The link in the spam email points to Google Translate, which can act as a URL redirector. Google Translate is told to fetch a second address embedded in the first link. This second address is a URL shortened by a service such as Yahoo!'s y.ahoo.it. This shortened address is expanded and followed by Google's systems to a hacked website, which contains a small bit of text that Google Translate ultimately tries to process.

But the compromised website also includes code that breaks the browser out of the Google Translate iframe and redirects the user, finally, to the rogue online pharmacy shop. It's a multi-stage obfuscation process designed to fox anti-spam software, which may simply inspect the message and approve it because all it can see is the Google link.

Barracuda researchers Dave Michmerhuizen and Shawn Anderson found that the search giant's translation service is blocking many of the dodgy links, but the tactic is nonetheless a concern because it may easily be used to lure users into visiting malware-tainted websites.

"We've tested many of these links in the lab, and it appears that Google may be implementing code that defeats frame-busting, but our tests are inconclusive.  Some links now redirect to google.com, while others still redirect to pharmacy sites.  We certainly hope this technique is not discovered by malware distributors," the Barracuda researchers explained in a blog post.

"In any case, it's worthwhile to know that spammers are taking these extreme steps to hide what they're doing, and no matter how good your spam filtering solution you have to be especially aware of emailed links.  In short, don't click on them." ®

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Heartbleed exploit, inoculation, both released
File under 'this is going to hurt you more than it hurts me'
Canadian taxman says hundreds pierced by Heartbleed SSL skewer
900 social insurance numbers nicked, says revenue watchman
German space centre endures cyber attack
Chinese code retrieved but NSA hack not ruled out
Burnt out on patches this month? Oracle's got 104 MORE fixes for you
Mass patch for issues across its software catalog
Reddit users discover iOS malware threat
'Unflod Baby Panda' looks to snatch Apple IDs
Oracle working on at least 13 Heartbleed fixes
Big Red's cloud is safe and Oracle Linux 6 has been patched, but Java has some issues
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the 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.