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News

Celebrity Air Crash Spam Flooding E-mail Accounts

Symantec : 25 August, 2010  (Technical Article)
Symantec is following a campaign by spammers luring e-mail recipients to open virus-loaded attachments which promise to contain details of celebrities supposedly killed in air catastrophe
Symantec is currently tracking an eruption on the spam ring of stories of celebrities dying in plane crashes or car accidents. The intention behind distributing such false news is to spread viruses using HTML or zipped attachments. This is one more in a series of recent virus attacks seen in the last few weeks. This is an old trick to use celebrity names to lure recipients into opening malicious URL or attachments.

This tactic seems to have on-going success as attackers continue use it as a ploy to lure victims into opening malicious files.

In one of the campaigns seen, spammers are using subject lines showing that a celebrity has died. In the message, it adds that the celebrity has died along with 34 other people when their plane carrying the group on a trip crashed into a mountainside while approaching the airport. For further details, recipients are asked to open the malicious attachment.

Celebrities targeted in the spam campaign include Beyonce Knowles, Bon Jovi, Gwen Stefani, Johnny Depp, Justin Timberlake, Tiger Woods and many others.

Spammers are known to create curiosity in their spam messages so that users get interested and make an attempt to open and, perhaps, install the executable. Also, via brand names such as a well known news agency or using a celebrity name gives them the much required credibility to gain trust in the recipient's mind. Users should follow standard practices of not opening any suspicious links/ attachments received in an unsolicited mail or from an unexpected source.
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