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Pfizer Botnet Spams Ads of its Own Products

Computers within the network of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer are sending out spam mails promoting the company's predominant erectile-enhancement drug Viagra, as well as advertisements for shady junk stocks and knockoff Rolexes. But these e-mails are not a part of the official marketing strategy of Pfizer.

It appears that malware has infected the company's computers and compromised them as zombie PCs sending out spam at the hacker's command. But it is rather odd that the computers are spamming ads about the pharmaceutical firm's own products.

According to Support Intelligence, a small security company based in San Francisco, US that tracks botnets, it had to blacklist 138 IP addresses belonging to the various networks of the company that it found to relay spam. Answering an interview for Wired, Support Intelligence reported that there are 600 specimens of spam mails with it, which it collected from Pfizer's computers during the past six months.

According to Rick Wesson, CEO of Support Intelligence, there is calamity inside Pfizer and they are not aware of it. He alerted Wired News about the problem, as per WIRED's news on September 6, 2007.

Most of the spam mails from Pfizer's computers pose to arrive from Gmail accounts, according to Wesson. The products they promote are penis-enlargement items having the names 'Manster' and 'Mandik', pharmaceutical items like Viagra, the sedative Ambien, and the sleep drug Valium. The spam mails also advertise Cialis, an Eli Lily product and a competitor of Viagra.

To illustrate how the activity was going on at Pfizer, Wesson cited a similar situation his company came across at a shipping company, which has 150,000 employees. When this company conducted an audit, it discovered 2,500 infected PCs.

The zombie/botnet phenomenon has also affected other renowned companies like the Bank of America and Toshiba. Support Intelligence was surprised when even after notifying Pfizer about the particular issue, it did nothing to halt the activity, the company said.

Pfizer has not been handling its IT security matters adequately enough over the past few months. It has suffered 3 data breaches affecting the identity of half its employees numbering to nearly 50,000.

Related article: Pfizer - Ex-Employee Sues for Data Infringement

» SPAMfighter News - 9/21/2007

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