Feeds

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

Santander scratches head over mystery malware barrage

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

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.

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM
Anyone claiming to know before tomorrow is telling porkies
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
Jihadi terrorists DIDN'T encrypt their comms 'cos of Snowden leaks
Intel bods' analysis concludes 'no significant change' after whistle was blown
Home Depot: 56 million bank cards pwned by malware in our tills
That's about 50 per cent bigger than the Target tills mega-hack
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
NORKS ban Wi-Fi and satellite internet at embassies
Crackdown on tardy diplomatic sysadmins providing accidental unfiltered internet access
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
Critical Adobe Reader and Acrobat patches FINALLY make it out
Eight vulns healed, including XSS and DoS paths
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.