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Spam Containing Malicious Links Rises - Symantec

Security experts at security vendor Symantec stress that spammers and malware peddlers are continuously sending out emails with malicious links and malicious attachments with the former method again witnessing rise.

The security firm highlights that the percentage of spam emails with malicious links was 7% during October 2014 which rose to 41% in November 2014 and it has continued to increase during early December 2014.

Researchers of Symantec posted a blog saying "Organizations can block and filter many tainted emails which come with an attached file. Symantec believes that the Cutwail botnet (Trojan.Pandex) is behind some of the latest spam emails together with other botnets and attackers have opted to use links in trying to evade email security software which scan for maligned attachments," as published by securityweek.com on December 16, 2014.

During last few weeks, cybercriminals have been relaying out social engineered messages like emails about voicemail and fax notifications. These emails may contain information usually included in genuine fax and voicemail messages like confirmation number or caller identification but the information itself is phony.

The common thread in each email is links given in emails and these links use hijacked domains having URL path which leads to a PHP landing page. Users are led to a malicious file as and when they click on the links. Symantec blogged that they have witnessed Downloader.Ponik and Downloader.Upatre being employed in these emails which are renowned trojans that are employed to download additional malware to compromise computers including information stealers like Trojan.Zbot (also known as Zeus).

Symantec witnessed a similar campaign in November 2014 which was based on fake telephone bills written in German. These fake emails reported that the receiver had recently run up large phone bills of their mobile and the purpose was to make the receiver click on the link to find out more about any mistakes in their bill.

The latest shift from malicious attachments to maligned links is a prompt reminder that security is a game of cat and mouse. Symantec concluded that spammers try to gain upper hand while mail security products identify these shifts.

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