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New E-Mail Attacks Target Business Executives

A series of sophisticated attacks that pretend to be bills from unconfirmed business partners, grievances from the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and investigation notices from IRS (Internal Revenue Service) is setting nooses for trapping high-profile business people with malware-laden e-mails that do not show the typical signs of phishing.

These messages are so craftily designed that they appear real, said Dave Jevans, chairman of the Anti-Phishing Working Group. Computerworld Security reported this on July 27, 2007.

The attacking e-mail targets large business executives and other high-ranking employees at a number of companies. Victims who view the attachments or click the links could infect their computers with malware and open up their company's banking network, log-ins for financial accounts, and a vast amount of their valuable and confidential data to fraudsters. The scam yields a lot more money than theft of a credit card number for making purchases, said Jevans.

To make an effective trap, the attacks put some real company references and persons' names in the beginning of the messages to make it look more authentic. According to experts, there could be various ways in which the fraudsters gather names of companies and employees. They could get them from information posted on companies' own sites, which generally provide a list of names and designations of the executive members. They could also refer the well-known contact databases on the Web, or even buy such information from regular marketing firms.

Several of the messages mask the malware behind embedded items in the attached Word documents that may bear the name, "Documents_for_Case.doc". If the recipient clicks on an icon in the document, the attack succeeds. In addition, the arrangement of the mechanism is such that the malware could evade the anti-virus programs. Other messages contain links leading to malware from the Internet.

Joe Stewart, a senior threat researcher at SecureWorks said that a crafty e-mail with a new kind of malware ready to be sent requires online thieves to find a server where their code could dump the data it steals, and which allows them to host additional downloadable malware. Computerworld Security reported this on July 27, 2007.

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