The warnings of hackers exploiting national tragedies have always been something lurking around the corner that we expect to surface every blue moon. Having tracked the latest exploitations, we come across findings of the security experts at AppRiver where a series of campaigns have been wielded by cybercriminals to again exploit recent national tragedies to spread malware.
In any given time, especially due to the nature of today's fast-spreading media on TV and the internet, a national tragedy or headline news story is received by millions just moments after it takes place. Information-hungry internet surfers are always up to getting the latest tidbit on a national tragedy and cybercrooks are there to take up any slack in the reporting of such news, only for the purpose of spreading malware to unsuspecting email recipients.
A recent method for flooding Internet users with emails containing a subject field of 'headlines' with the body of the message containing promised links to national tragedy stories is in full force. A new series of these spamming campaigns have begun to exploit recent national tragic events with subjects like 'Boston bombings', 'Osama Bin Laden still alive' and 'Asiana flight 214 crash'. Hackers have even spread fake videos through links promising to be a story or telecast featuring a recent tragedy. Naturally, the fake videos will want to install some type of update or fake flash player, which is only masking a nasty malware infection.
We know firsthand how the exploitation of headline news subject matter and national tragedy events are common means of hackers and crafty cybercrooks to spread malware or even conduct aggressive phishing schemes on thousands of computer users around the world. It is no longer a surprise to us to see hackers taking advantage of the most recent national tragedy.
In the past, we have warned computer users of the exploitations of the Boston Bombings, the Sandy Hook Shooting, Hurricane Sandy devastation and even promised news on the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. The possibilities of using national tragedies and popular news subjects to spread malware through spam messages are on the rise once again. The type of malware spread could range from Trojan horses that allow hackers to steal data to horrid rootkit-type infections turning an infected system into a zombie computer at the mercy of controlling servers.
Computer users are urged to be cautious of messages they receive promising too-good-to-be-true details on national tragedies and popular headline news stories. Usually hackers who are in the business of spreading malware through the exploitation of popular news messages will tend to bend the subject line to the point that it is completely unbelievable.