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Spammers Using Dead Celebrity Stories To Build Zeus Botnet

Researchers at security firm Symantec state that hackers are duping computer-users with stories about dead celebrities in such a way that the latter open opportunities towards getting their own systems compromised that the criminals then use for building Zeus botnets.

Famous people's names listed include those of singers, actors and sometimes sports figures ranging from Cruise (Tom) and Anniston (Jennifer) to Z (Jay) and West (Kayne).

The spam mails, which are laden with malware, utilize subject lines which tell that a famous star has expired. For instance, "Bon Jovi died," "Beyonce Knowles died," "David Beckham died," "Cameron Diaz died," "Brad Pitt died," etc.

Thereafter the text of the e-mail elaborates that an airplane, which was carrying the celebrity and 34 other individuals, hit against a mountain just before landing at the airport, leaving all dead. There's also an attachment containing a .zip file that accompanies the message, which tells recipients to view the attachment to get more details. However, it actually contains malware that Symantec identifies as Trojan.Zbot.

Thus, if an end-user opened the attachment as also ran the file, the Zeus Trojan hijacked his system and included it within the expanding network of bots.

Meanwhile, in one more instance, Symantec noted that the header was modified, which indicated that owing to fatal motorcar accidents, the celebrities met with death.

Remarking about the trick spammers used, director Marc Fossi of security response team at Symantec stated that malware purveyors have been utilizing celebrities as lure since long. However, the latest spam run was fairly intensive as the rate of the .zip attachment became twofold during the past fortnight, he reported. ComputerWorld reported this on August 24, 2010.

Besides, according to the Symantec researchers, everybody knows that spammers incite curiosity via their junk e-mails and thus users are lured into opening attachments as also probably planting their executables. When spammers use the names of celebrities or brand names like popular news agencies they acquire the recipients' confidence.

Hence to remain safe from the risks of spam, it's advisable that users don't open doubtful attachments or links arriving from unfamiliar sources or through unsolicited e-mails.

Related article: Spammers Continue their Campaigns Successfully

» SPAMfighter News - 31-08-2010

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