Cyber-criminals exploit national tragedies to spread malware

Hackers send out emails with misleading titles in order to direct computer users to their sites

Web security analysts have renewed warnings of hackers exploiting national tragedies to spread malware, with recent examples following the aftermath of both the Boston Bombings and the explosion of a fertiliser factory in Texas.

Recent reports from email security specialists AppRiver  identified a series of campaigns conducted by cyber-criminals in the form of a ‘bait and switch’: emails are sent out with subject lines promising updates on recent news stories and when unsuspecting users click the links they’re then sent to sites containing malware.

One method used sent emails with the simple subject field of ‘headlines’ with the body of the messaged containing a hyperlink and a html document labelled as either “boston.html” or “news.html”. Clicking on these then sent victims to a land paged where screencaps of TV footage were used to replicate a news website.

Later, more advanced emails were sent out that more closely mimicked those from real news organisations. Typical headlines included: ‘Opinion: FBI knew about bombs 3 days before Boston Marathon - Why and Who Benefits? - CNN.com’, Opinion: Boston Marathon Worse (sic) Sensation - Osama bin Laden still alive!? - CNN.com’ and ‘Opinion: North Korean Official's child was the CIA target - Boston Marathon Explosions Worse Sensations. - CNN.com.’

Fred Touchette, a security analyst for AppRiver, said: “It no longer comes as a surprise when we see malware campaigns destined for inboxes that pretend to be news stories or videos about recent tragedies that become world topics. It's an appalling technique that these unscrupulous cyber-criminals found to be highly effective.”

“This type of despicable activity not only hurts the user duped into following the link, but also potentially the aid agencies desperately trying to raise awareness, and donations, in the wake of these disasters.”

To protect against such attacks experts advise a typical combination of anti-virus software and everyday vigilance – if you’re receiving unsolicited emails then think before clicking any links.

News
Courtney Love has admitted using heroin while pregnant with Frances Bean Cobain, her daughter with Kurt Cobain
people
Sport
Murray celebrates reaching the final
tennis
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Ashdown Group: SQL DBA (SSIS, ETL) - London, £60k

    £60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: SQL DBA (SSIS, ETL) - Central London, £60,000...

    Ashdown Group: 1st Line Support Analyst

    £18000 per annum: Ashdown Group: This role is a perfect opportunity for someon...

    Guru Careers: Sales Director / Business Development Manager

    £35 - 45K + COMMISSION (NEG): Guru Careers: A Sales Director / Business Develo...

    Freshtechit: Coldfusion Developer

    £50k ( neg) plus benefits : Freshtechit: ColdFusion roles available in Surrey ...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
    World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

    Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

    The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
    Why the league system no longer measures up

    League system no longer measures up

    Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
    Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

    Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

    Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
    Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

    Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

    The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
    Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

    Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

    Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
    Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

    Greece elections

    In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
    Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

    Holocaust Memorial Day

    Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
    Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

    Magnetic north

    The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness