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Spammers Exploiting Italy’s Earthquake to Spread Malicious Code

The recent earthquake in Italy has not just caused tremors in the country, but has also shaken the Internet. A leading antivirus solutions provider, Symantec, has noticed that fraudulent e-mails are being dispatched from illegally created e-mail accounts showing the subject relating to the Italy quake.

Although these scam e-mails do not contain any malicious attachments, Symantec says that spammers could still find out which e-mail accounts are active when recipients click to view the messages or when the e-mails bounce with system notifications in case of inactive IDs.

The security company also says that the subject lines used in the e-mails are varied. These are, "Quake-prone Italy lags in quake-proofing buildings", "A glance at towns damaged by quake in Italy", "Italy seeks survivors, prepares to bury quake dead", "Scientist Claims He Predicted Italy Quake" and "A glance at victims and damage in Italy's quake."

Moreover, security experts have recently observed inboxes become full with bogus news captions centering current events, popular politicians and Hollywood celebrities that disseminated malicious programs through attachments.

Security experts state that spammers continue to choose the social engineering tactic that exploits users' curiosity. Accordingly, they use news headlines and current events to deceive users into downloading malware. Therefore, it is important that recipients should remain alert and safeguard themselves from such kinds of spam.

In recent weeks of March-April 2009, Symantec has also noticed a rise in image attachments particularly in health-related spam. It has also observed various obfuscation methods in use like making the image noisy to escape detection.

Symantec says that spammers often use familiar methods or variations for better outcomes.

Meanwhile, spammers' exploitation of natural calamities to deceive people and grab their money is not new, state security experts. In 2008, when a massive earthquake hit the Sichuan province of China, the US FBI cautioned computer users against unsolicited e-mails that attempted to raise donations for the earthquake victims. Such fraudulent e-mails that might depict fake logos of online payment agencies usually offer free holiday tours to people who make the largest donation, warn experts.

Related article: Spammers Continue their Campaigns Successfully

» SPAMfighter News - 4/14/2009

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