Saturday, January 31, 2009

Spam And Viruses Converge In Latest Hacking Attack

A new hackers' attack uses a combination of spam and viruses to launch a world campaign, according to a recent report by MessageLabs.

The security company released the research at Infosecurity Europe 2007 in London to tell that it detected e-mails that were spam and also contained virus.

For a fairly long time in the past, cyber criminals have been using e-mail viruses to build botnets and distribute spam from them. But now MessageLabs for the first time has found viruses concealed in stock scam spam. MessageLabs has blocked numerous e-mails since April 14, 2007 that carried the Storm Worm.

Hackers think it beneficial to use one e-mail instead of two, said Mark Sunner, chief security analyst at MessageLabs in a company press release. MarketWIRE published it on April 25, 2007. The bad guys are adding layers to existing threats, continued Sunner. They don't seem to be satisfied by just scamming and saturating someone's inbox with unsolicited bulk e-mails; they also want to acquire control of the person's PC in the same attack.

These latest attack tactics represent the boldness with which some criminal gangs are playing. These developments also show that spam cannot be considered as a mere nuisance but it is vital to keep it clear from the desktop. MessageLabs is tracking criminal gangs engaged in the new activity.

The convergence technique has witnessed a fall in old viruses and phishing attacks, the report says. In April 2007, phishing attacks declined from the previous month. There was one phishing e-mail in 116 e-mails in that month. That meant a 12% fall in the number of phishing attacks - the lowest since August 2006.

Towards the end of April 2007, the most recent threats of Zhelatin also called the Storm Worm were going out as spam in pump-and-dump stock e-mails. The new e-mails were obviously linking to websites where attackers hosted malicious code.

MessageLabs has also determined that spam from unknown sources has increased from 0.9% to 76.1% of total e-mails its clients received in April 2007. But by also including the spam mails from known senders the proportion would increase to 83.6%.

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