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Danger level 9
Type: Spam Tools
Common infection symptoms:
  • Connects to the internet without permission
  • Shows commercial adverts
  • Slow internet connection
  • System crashes
  • Annoying Pop-up's
  • Slow Computer

Swine Flu Scam

The Swine Flu epidemic has millions of thousands of individuals on high alert, keeping a vigil on the latest developments of the virus. It is because of this heightened sense of awareness to the virus, that Cyber criminals are seeing a range of opportunities they need to cash in on.

What these scammers are doing is taking full advantage of the fear and anxiety people are experiencing on a global level – due to this illness, and they are capitalising on that as much as is possible.

The Swine Flu scams in operation at present do not necessarily push antiviral drugs to the reader, but will attempt to peddle malicious files onto the unsuspecting users’ systems.

The modus operandi of these type scams goes as follows: An email will be sent out to an unsuspecting user, with the subject lines the likes of : “Madonna caught Swine Flu” or “Salma Hayak is infected with the Swine Flu” or “Hollywood runs amok with Swine Flu cases”... all these subject liens are designed to entice the user to click on the email – once this is done, a fake codec Trojan may be installed onto the system, or a similar malware, all of which to perform malicious actions, so as to compromise the integrity of the infected system.

The Swine Flu scam is functional as it creates an atmosphere of uncertainty on the web. The initial step is to bombard the user with email spam that includes headlines related to the Swine Flu epidemic, but will not include attachments or any news content – this further instils fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) into the reader – leaving them feeling helpless and uninformed.

The next step is to ‘provide’ the user with ‘information’ about the epidemic, but the information is relayed in the form of a PDF file – which is available to the public for only $19.95. Once downloaded, this file only installs malicious content onto the system. The PDF file is referred to as: ‘Swine Flu Survival Guide’ – which is highly misleading, as your computer may not survive if this issue is not removed immediately!
It appears, according to recent research done on the Swine Flu scam, that an immense 5% of all email scams are Swine Flu related, which is alarming, as this scam is only a week old.

The scary thing about there being so many Swine Flu scams out there – is the fact that the scams must be proving to be successful. My reasoning for assuming such a thing lies in the fact that Cyber scammers tend to keep in close contact with each other. As is mentioned by Stephan Chentte (Websense Inc, manger of Security Research), “Spammers are generally very well connected with each other and see how well it’s working. It always goes through the test phase. They test campaigns with less threatening approaches, share feedback between each other, figure out what works and what doesn’t and then launch increasingly harmful attacks”.

In light of this revelation, one can safely assume that according to the prevalence of this scam, all figures point to the fact that the scam is indeed highly effective.
It is believed that the first swine flu email containing malicious content surfaced last week (25th April 2009). This scam is typical of a Medspam, which entices users by scaring them into taking action against the Swine Flu virus.

Top anti-virus applications have identified the rogue PDF application as: Bloodhound.Exploit.6 and the dropped file have been identified as: Infostealer (a Trojan application). This threat has been given a level 1 security risk – being t the lowest level of risk; however one should remain vigilant and keep safe – both online and in real time!

Remember, Computer Safety, first!

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