Feeds

Oi, bank manager. Only you've got my email address - where're these TROJANS coming from?

Santander scratches head over mystery malware barrage

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Santander customers are continuing to complain about receiving trojans and other junk to email addresses exclusively used with the bank. The reports began last month, prompting promises of an investigation by Santander. It's still unclear whether email addresses leaked from the bank or one of its affiliates.

Independent experts said that fingering the source of this type of leak can be hard to determine.

We first heard of problems from Reg reader “Paul” in mid November. "In the last few days, I've started to receive a number of spam/virus emails sent to a unique email address only given to and used by the Santander bank to contact me," he told us.

Checks at the time revealed that Santander had already launched an investigation in response to similar reports, as SC Magazine reported in early November.

A trojan was being sent to private email addresses that, according to complaints and reports, should only have been known by institutions including Santander Bank, the UK Government Gateway and NatWest's FastPay service. The attacks were first detected by Belgian security firm MX Lab.

A substantial sample of the offending emails contain reference to a supposed "Direct Debiting Seminar Invite" and a trojan in an attached ZIP file, as explained in a blog post by MX Labs here.

Attacks against unique email addresses registered with Santander have continued into December, with another Reg reader reporting the problem a few days ago. It's unclear whether or not this is the second wave of the same attack.

Reg reader “Andrew” told us: "It appears that Santander may have had a data-breach: the customised unique email address I gave exclusively to them is now being used to send me junk email, trojans."

According to a thread on UK financial advice website Money Saving Expert, Andrew and Paul are far from the only one to run against this problem. There's been a steady stream of reports on the issue since mid-November.

There's no suggestion that any of the bank's more sensitive systems are leaking, but those who submitted posts to the MSE thread are worried about the junk mail they're receiving after email addresses supplied to the bank somehow leaked out.

In a statement, Santander told El Reg that it's continuing to investigate a possible data breach involving email addresses supplied to them:

Our investigation is ongoing. If, when it is completed, a breech [sic] has occurred we will follow the correct procedure in reporting this to the relevant authorities.

These kind of problems crop up regularly and are far from limited to Santander. It's a familiar story: someone receives a malicious email address in a unique email address box only used to register an account with one entity (typically a bank). They cry foul and tell us the bank must have had its email database breached. This is a regular theme of items in Vulture Central's mailbag.

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
'Kim Kardashian snaps naked selfies with a BLACKBERRY'. *Twitterati gasps*
More alleged private, nude celeb pics appear online
Home Depot ignored staff warnings of security fail laundry list
'Just use cash', former security staffer warns friends
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
UK.gov lobs another fistful of change at SME infosec nightmares
Senior Lib Dem in 'trying to be relevant' shocker. It's only taxpayers' money, after all
Who.is does the Harlem Shake
Blame it on LOLing XSS terroristas
Snowden, Dotcom, throw bombs into NZ election campaign
Claim of tapped undersea cable refuted by Kiwi PM as Kim claims extradition plot
Freenode IRC users told to change passwords after securo-breach
Miscreants probably got in, you guys know the drill by now
THREE QUARTERS of Android mobes open to web page spy bug
Metasploit module gobbles KitKat SOP slop
BitTorrent's peer-to-peer chat app Bleep goes live as public alpha
A good day for privacy as invisble.im also reveals its approach to untraceable chats
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
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.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.