Maware authors have employed Google’s paid advertisements to direct surfers to virus infected websites. Hackers are buying paid advertisments for keywords such as Better Business Bereau, BBB, and Cars.com. When surfers click on a hacker’s advertisment that shows for a given search, they are routed through an intermidiary website, where malware is downloaded to vulnerable machines, before being redirected to the website they intended to visit. The tactic was first reported last week.
Google began removing known bad links as of late last week. However, experts are doubtful that there is a permanent solution to the problem given the size and automated nature of Google’s advertiser platform.
There were 23,000 new cases of Web Based Malware in the first quarter of 2007, compared with 9,000 in the first quarter of 2006. This represents an increase of approximately 150%. 70% of infected web pages were legitimate sites that had been hacked (recent, high profile examples are the Circuit City, Dolphins Stadium web sites). The increase coincides with a shift in tactics used by malware propogators to infect unsuspecting surfers. In addition to hacking/infecting popular, heavily visited sites, Bot herders are inserting links to malware infected sites in spam email. Another tactic used by malware authors is the use of Google PPC ads to lure surfers to malware infected web sites.
A twisted social engineering ploy offering camera phone footage of the Virginia Tech shootings is being used by malware spammers to get viewers to open spam messages containing a picture of the shooter and click on a link that installs a malicious screensaver file (TERROR_EM_VIRGINIA.SCR). The file is a banking spyware Trojan horse, known as Mal/Packer. The trojan seeks to steal passwords and usernames for online banking sites, opening up the possibility of identity theft and financial loss to any user infected with the program.
Using spam-mails with subject lines and pictures related to current/recent news events has become an ever more common tactic of spammers/malware distributors. This is how the storm worm, which resurfaced last week got its name. As a matter of policy, IT managers/administrators should strongly emphsize to users that any inbound email referring to current news evetns should be treated with extreme sketacism. If it is a topic they are interested in, direct them to visit a reputable news source at an appropriate time.
The storm worm trojan spam outbreak that started last Thursday (which we reported on here) pushed global virus levels to 60 times the normal daily average. Users should continue to be on the lookout for “love” and “worm alert” related subject lines and emails with password protected zip files.
Given the fact that the storm worm senders have relied on subject lines citing real world news events in the past, it might also be prudent to be on the lookout for emails with subject lines referring to the terrible tradgedy at Virginia Tech University today.
According to research results released by IDC, the volume of spam will exceed the volume of legitimate email in 2007. IDC projects that Spam will account for 40 billion messages in 2007, out of a predicted total of 97 billion (not including automated messages such as delivery confimations).
An email with the attached text picture is circulating heavily today. The message appears to be from a service provider and tells the recipient that they are infected with a virus and need to download and run the attached password protected file to fix the problem (password is embedded in the message image). The file, patch-6280.zip contains a currently unknown virus. Users should not, under any circumstances download the attachment.
The Virus is W32/Nuwar@MM, aka the Storm Worm, a security application termination virus. We first saw this worm in January. It is called the Storm Worm because the original spam/malware campaign had email ssubject lines alluding to a major storm in Europe.
It first installs a rootkit to evade detection. It then connects to a custom peer-to-peer network where the worm’s creators issue commands, such as to download additional malware, send spam or transmit personal data stolen from the victim computer. To spread itself further, the worm also searches for email addresses on the victim machine and sends itself to any discovered addresses. The worm is self-mutating. If the virus is undetected/unremoved, it opens doors for future spam and malware attacks.
Additional subject lines include:
- Virus Activity Detected!
- Worm Activity Detected!
- Trojan Detected!
- Virus Alert!
- Worm Detected!
- Spyware Detected!
- Worm Alert!
As a side note, when the emails first started circulating on Thursday, the subject lines had romantic themes (“”A kiss so gentle”, or “I dream of you”).
Title variations of the zip file include the words “patch,” “hotfix,” “removal,” and “bugfix,” followed by a random four digit number.
An email worm is circulating with subject lines claiming the US has launched a missile strike on Iran. The most common subject line thus far is “USA Missle Strike: Iran War just have started”. Other known subject lines are:
“USA Just Have Started World War III”
“Missle Strike: The USA kills more then 20000 Iranian citizens”
“Israel Just Have Started World War III”
The emails contain an attachment with the title “Read More,” or “Video”.
This is an opportunity to remind your users that emails claiming sensational news events should never be opened, nor should any attachments. If readers wish to validte any sensational claims, they should instead visit a reputable news source and check the headlines there.