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Samir_Patil | 12 May 2011 15:23:38 GMT

Have you ever received an email from an unknown person offering you an exorbitant amount of money and asking for your personal information in return? Well, that is exactly what a “419 scam” is!

419 spam, also known as Nigerian spam, is named after the Nigerian penal code, section 4-1-9. The most common forms of 419 spam are fake business proposals, fake fund transfers, and email lottery winning notifications—all of which include the spammers’ requests for personal information, such as name, account number, phone number, email address, bank details, etc.

419 spam is often seen in English, German, Spanish, and some other European languages, but spammers are now targeting Asian countries because of the increased Internet user base and widespread broadband infrastructure.

For the first time, Symantec has observed 419 spam created in Hindi using Devnagari script. This is a big paradigm shift where 419 spam is concerned. Hindi is a widely...

Sammy Chu | 10 May 2011 19:38:34 GMT

Spamming with dotted decimal URL (a dotted decimal URL refers to the four-byte IP address notation as a sequence of four decimal numbers separated by dots) is one of the most often seen URL-obfuscation techniques employed by spammers. Unfortunately, to the computer, an IP address is just a 32-bit binary number, and a dotted decimal is just one out of the many numeral systems for IP address expression. With this flexibility in interpretation, spammers have developed a new way to obfuscate their URLs; they start converting their dotted decimal URLs into different numeral systems.

Below are some of the IP address numeral system obfuscation techniques Symantec has observed of spammers. (All of the samples below are just different numeral representations of the IP address for Symantec.com)

An IP address converted to hexadecimal format. (Hexadecimal is a base-16 numeral system.)

An...

Mayur Kulkarni | 10 May 2011 15:51:15 GMT

Scammers have been busy these days generating false news alerts through email spam. In this way, they are trying to advertise their so-called rewarding “work from home” business. They are using names of well known news agencies in the email headers to arouse curiosity in the email reader’s mind. Using these names in the Subject and From headers, they want to give recipients an impression of authenticity. In doing so, users may feel compelled to believe in claims made in the email contents and, of course, to click URLs as well. One of the sample subjects below even goes on to blame the U.S. President Barack Obama and his policies for affecting the unemployed.

Some of the sample headers seen in the attack:

Subject: Yahoo! investigates "impossible" claims.

Subject: Need some money? ITV wants to help

Subject: BBC...

Mathew Maniyara | 09 May 2011 21:05:55 GMT

Gone are the days when phishing targeted financial brands alone. Phishers today are eyeing several other sectors to steal users’ confidential information. For the past few months, the gaming sector has increasingly been a target for phishers. Symantec is actively keeping track of these phishing sites that spoof gaming brands.

So what’s so lucrative about phishing for gaming site credentials? Gaming sites are popular with young generations who are passionate about playing and winning more and more games. Many of these gaming sites have a section for paid members that contain members’ exclusive games and added features. The primary motive of phishers is to lure users with the hopes of stealing their credentials to gain access to the members’ section. Since these credentials are in high demand, phishers also intend to sell stolen usernames and passwords on the Internet.

The following are some noteworthy statistics of phishing on gaming sites for...

Candid Wueest | 04 May 2011 22:25:31 GMT

We know that Facebook scammers can be very creative and that they are experimenting with new ways to achieve their goals. Besides the omnipresent malicious Facebook apps that will steal the user’s permissions to post to his or her wall, we currently see a rise in the number of manual script attacks, with a few hundred thousand users falling victim daily.

The user is lured with a message as bait to a prepared site. The all time favourite “See who viewed your profile” is used a lot these days, but we have seen others with free credits for social games and the like. This landing page could be a Facebook page, a Facebook application page, or a remote site on some domain. It asks the user to copy some simple looking Javascript to the browser address bar and to click the ‘Enter’ key.

The scammers want to ensure sure that the users are not strained by...

Eric Lin | 04 May 2011 10:09:29 GMT

Who was the one who held you in their arms when you let out your first cry in the world? Did you say “doctor?” Well, that may be true in some cases, but the more obvious answer is “mother.”

Dating back to ancient Greece, mankind held a festival worshiping Cybele, mother of the Greek gods. Mother’s Day is now celebrated around the world, mainly sometime in March, April, or May. The most common date is the second Sunday in May when, in most countries, mothers receive flowers and gifts in celebration of the day. How can spammers miss this special occasion when people are surfing the Internet to try and dig up a sweet surprise to express love and gratitude towards their mothers?

The following are Mother’s Day spam samples that Symantec has recently observed. There is a range of product spam, including flowers, watches, gift cards, and diet products. This latest spam campaign involved both dictionary and domain attack techniques,...

Samir_Patil | 03 May 2011 12:17:05 GMT

The first spam using the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death was seen in the wild within three hours of the event—Symantec reported this spam activity along with other spam samples in a blog entitled “Osama Dead” is No Longer a Hoax. As anticipated, we started observing a rise in malicious and phishing attacks.

Phishing attacks usually target big brands. In one such phishing attack capitalizing on Bin Laden news, spammers targeted CNN Mexico. The spam email contains a link to bogus “photos and uncensored videos” and redirects users to a phishing site:

The phishing site shows an auto-running Bin Laden related video in an iframe and asks the user to click on a link to download a “complete” video. Clicking on that link forces the download of an ....

Samir_Patil | 02 May 2011 20:55:28 GMT

That’s right, and this time it’s not a hoax! Bin Laden was killed by a CIA-led operation on Sunday night at a mansion in Abbottabad, north of Islamabad. In 2004, Symantec reported a hoax email attack with the subject “Osama bin Laden Captured” which contain a link to a Web site that hosted malware. Similar attacks that used such false information about Osama Bin Laden were also distributed in 2005 and 2006.

News targeting famous/notorious personalities are often used in scams. At this moment, we at Symantec Probe Network are observing a huge inflow of legitimate messages carrying links to the news. However, in all likelihood, there will be an increase in spam volume targeting this news.

In one of the spam samples, the message is poisoned using the news of Osama’s death. The news snippet is glued in an HTML <title>...

khaley | 29 Apr 2011 22:43:22 GMT

On Tuesday, April 26, Symantec hosted a live Twitter chat centered around our latest Internet Security Threat Report and the changing threat landscape. We’d like to extend a big thank you to those who participated and joined the conversation.

 Using the #SecChat hash tag in Twitter, we were able to guide a lively discussion around what’s top of mind with regard to the current security threat landscape for those of you in the security industry.

One aspect of the discussion focused on end-user security education and its importance, while others questioned whether dollars spent toward user education made any difference at all. We certainly heard all sides to the story. If there is anything people agree on it’s that the “user is like water, following the path of least resistance to their end goal,” in the words of one tweeter.

Those in support...

Suyog Sainkar | 28 Apr 2011 08:30:17 GMT

As we have seen with many major events in the past, news of the British Royal Wedding is currently being used by cyber criminals to bolster their spam campaigns and push rogue antivirus software through black hat search engine optimization (SEO) techniques.
 

Spam campaigns

We have blogged previously about “snowshoe” spammers targeting the upcoming British Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Spam email messages advertising a replica of Princess Diana’s engagement ring that were observed in February are still making the rounds on the Internet, and the eve of the royal wedding is now upon us. Furthermore, as we had anticipated, we have recently observed additional spam campaigns making use of this significant event to promote various products.

In one such recent spam campaign, email promoting a "...