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PC Tools warns of increase in e-card deceptions.

PC Tools : 10 August, 2007  (Technical Article)
Sophisticated attack mechanisms using sites directed from malicious e-cards provide hackers with easy access to victim's data.
Quantities of a potent form of computer malware distributed via e-mail and disguised as electronic greetings card are rising, according to dramatic new research from security software developer PC Tools.

The Metropolitan Police's Computer Crime Unit reports that these rogue 'e-cards' are often the way hackers gain access to computers or find e-mail addresses worth sending spam messages to. The Met's comments follow new research from security software developers PC Tools.

"We suspect that the malware writers of this latest influx are based in Russia or the Ukraine. Their attacks are extremely sophisticated and use advanced techniques to get on and stay on victims PC's," explains PC Tools Chief Threat Officer Kurt Baumgartner.

PC Tools experts have identified the malware exploding into people's inboxes as another variant of the Storm Trojan, a new and virulent breed of mutating malware tagged 'Malware 2.0'.

"What we're seeing with these latest attacks are typical social engineering emails telling recipients they have received an e-card from a friend, loved-one or colleague, then enticing the user to click a link to view the card. Once the link is clicked a wave of malware is unleashed by taking the victim to a webpage that exploits their browser and infects the PC without any additional action required," explains PC Tools Chief Threat Officer Kurt Baumgartner.

The Malware 2.0 era is demanding new and inventive solutions from anti-virus developers and PC Tools is at the leading edge of this field.

"With thousands of malware threats being released every day, or even every minute, how can products which are solely reliant on signature-based solutions detect rapidly changing exploits? They can't, the only solution is behavioural-based protection - such as those being developed by PC Tools' advanced research team." says Baumgartner.

Consumers are naked against this new plague of zero-minute attacks. We are talking about new exploits, in large volumes, sometimes every 30 seconds. This next generation of malware requires automated computer systems to combat large volumes of malware as human manpower is simply not enough.

These e-card threats are also designed to kill popular anti-virus products when it detects them starting, ensuring a persistent bot-enabled system once the malware is installed and the system rebooted. The threats also leave the system exposed to possible back-door and remote exploits, meaning all the data on the machine is being put at risk." said Baumgartner.

PC Tools has posted a detailed technical analysis, generated by their automated threat analysis system Threat Expert, of the latest Storm variant. The report can be viewed online.

Users and other security researchers are invited to submit their own threat samples to Threat Expert to receive an automated analysis of their submission.
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