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News

Celebrity lure directs browsers to malware sites

BitDefender UK : 29 July, 2008  (Technical Article)
Britney Spears and Obama e-mails contain links to malicious web sites where browsers are likely to fall victim to malware infections warns BitDefender
A new malware distribution scheme performed via spam messages which attempt to trick computer users into downloading and installing malicious applications on their computers, has been identified by BitDefender.

The malware uses news fragments naming celebrities, such as Angelina Jolie, Britney Spears and Barack Obama. The e-mail messages direct unsuspecting users to a webpage that allegedly contains a video clip. However, upon visiting the compromised page, the victims are shown an image impersonating a video player, linking to a binary executable file.

In order to be able to watch the clip, they are advised to download an alleged update for Adobe's popular Flash player, which turns to be infected with Trojan.Downloader.Tibs.GZM. Additionally, the binary file starts downloading automatically, a practice known as "drive-by download", and this should be enough of a warning for the user about the file's legitimacy. When executed, the Trojan installs other pieces of malware, including the infamous Trojan.Peed.JPU, used on large scale in the Storm botnet.

The new mail distribution campaign mostly targets computer users with limited knowledge of data security, as well as users who would deliberately ignore the common safety rules in order to gain access to sensational news.

"These e-mail messages are part of a larger wave that attempts to infect the user with miscellaneous Trojans," said Bogdan Dumitru, BitDefender's chief technology officer. "Initially designed as messages with a single structure, the number of variants quickly escalated to three: a category including a single-part, plain text body, another one with a HTML part, and a third category that uses the Opera Mail Client templates."

In order to increase the success rate of the attack, the spammer uses a series of catchy keywords that are displayed alternatively inside the message body. Despite the fact that each message uses different fake news flashes and headlines, all of them send the user to an URL that ends with either stream.html or watchit.html.

Although the approach is extremely similar to a previous spam campaign involving Angelina Jolie and Michael Jackson, the pieces of malware and their hosting servers have been changed. The new Trojan has been repacked with another utility in order to avoid detection.

BitDefender's professional security solutions are currently filtering and detecting both the spam message and the malicious code the „install_flash_player_update" binary is infected with (Trojan.Downloader.Tibs.GZM). In order to enjoy a safe experience while surfing the web, BitDefender recommends that users install a complete anti-malware protection solution.
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