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Security Response

The Arabic Wave Gathers Momentum in the Spam World

Created: 23 Feb 2011 13:51:47 GMT • Updated: 23 Jan 2014 18:22:40 GMT • Translations available: 日本語
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The Tunisian wave has captured the minds of people across the Middle East region. What is surprising to note is the creative use of the Internet in discussing such sensitive issues. The unrest in Tunisia has "tsunamied" into a mass movement straight at the heart of the Arab world. Egypt, with the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak, has become ground zero of this wave. But, as this movement gains momentum and spreads, there are many waiting to misuse this space—as demonstrated in the sample discussed below.

 
In this typical 419 scam message, the scammer masquerades as the erstwhile President Hosni Mubarak. A handsome proposal, considering the (bogus) bonanza of a 30% handling fee to be given to the one who cooperates in siphoning his booty out of Egypt. Further, because of the urgency of the situation, one is required to give "full contact information" as well as "some identity proof" as security for the said task. As always, the spammer hasn't forgotten to provide a link for a legitimate news site—in this message, a BBC news link is furnished. The origin of this attack is in Mauritius and is sent through fake accounts created with the name of Hosni Mubarak on a free webmail service.

Although the scammer has made all possible effort to make this offer look really enticing, the message is lame. Why would anyone seek your help in such a so-called confidential task? Moreover, gathering personal information by using tactics similar to that mentioned above is a very common scamming ploy.

With the continuing liberation waves in neighboring Arab countries, we expect to see similar spam campaigns appear. Symantec recommends that users remain cautious when dealing with email messages from unknown senders and use a Symantec message security solution to prevent getting scammed.

Note: Thanks to Amit Kulkarni for contributed content.