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Security Response

Spammers Ready Their Arsenal for US Independence Day

Spam emails take advantage of July 4 with fake offers.
Created: 04 Jul 2014 10:01:54 GMT
Binny Kuriakose's picture
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Contributor: Vijay Thawre

It’s a time of freedom and joy for Americans as the United States prepares to celebrate its 238th Independence Day on July 4 with fireworks, parades, music, and public events. However, like every other year, spammers are sending people a barrage of cleverly crafted spam aimed at exploiting this mood of celebration.

This year, Symantec has observed a variety of spam, ranging from fake Internet offers to pharmacy deals, which take advantage of the US Independence Day.

Travel promotion spam
In travel promotion spam campaigns, the spammer tries to lure customers with offers of premium travel arrangements for July 4. The spammer claims to offer chartered private jets, aiming to entice customers with the luxury of having a plane at their disposal. They also make a pitch for budget travelers as well. The spam message includes a link  to a page that asks users to enter their personal information.

Subject: 4th of July Private Jets 
From: "[NAME]" <[NAME]@[DOMAIN]>

independencedayspam_figure1.png
Figure 1. Travel promotion spam exploiting US Independence Day

Online casino spam
With this spam, the messages’ recipients are invited to play online casino games. The messages also claim to offer a welcome gift in the form of bonus coupon codes. According to the messages, the websites include online and offline gameplay. However, more often than not, anything downloaded from these sites is malicious. The sites require users to register before they can play and the victim will have to divulge their personal information, including credit card details.

Subject: Celebrate 4th of July with 50OnTheHouse
From: "UncleSam" <sam@[DOMAIN]>

independencedayspam_figure2.png
Figure 2. Casino spam exploits US Independence Day

Health spam
This is a major category of spam which exploits the anonymity that online shopping can provide. This spam offers discounts and the discreet handling of orders for medicines and supplements which are not easily available over the counter. The links in the spam messages lead to fraudulent websites, which are now seen displaying banners that wish customers a happy July 4.

Subject: 4th of July Cialis/Viagra Sale Going on Now
From: [private webmail ID]

independencedayspam_figure3.png
Figure 3. Fake pharmacy website exploiting  July 4

Product spam
The most widely observed US Independence Day spam involves car clearance sales. These messages display the latest models to reel in customers and offer price quotes for different cars. The link in these messages redirects users to a Web page demanding personal information for registration purposes. After user inputs this information, the site redirects users to a legitimate car website.

Subject: 4th of July Clearance Event On All New Cars
From: "VehіcleStіckerPrіce" <postmaster@[DOMAIN]>

independencedayspam_figure4.png
Figure 4. Clearance sale product spam exploiting July 4

Symantec’s antispam product protects users from these spam messages and monitors all possible spam techniques, including phishing and the distribution of malware. Keep your antispam product updated frequently to get the best protection against these threats.

Have a safe and happy Independence Day!