Swine Flu Infects Inboxes too


As the Swine Flu makes its way around the world and creates panic among travelers, spammers have tried to cash in on the frenzy. The Commtouch Labs recently reported on two different kinds of spam attacks that have incorporated the phrase “Swine Flu” as a means of social engineering — Swine Flu is such a hot topic right now that recipients may be more likely to open a message related to it.

In the first outbreak example (pictured below), the emails included “Swine Flu” in the subject line to grab a recipient’s attention. The body of the emails are unrelated to the Swine Flu, but read much like sexual enhancement spam of the past, aiming for men who may need a little extra boost to express their love.

Swine Flu Pharma Examples

The links in both examples led to Canadian Pharmacy sites featuring sexual enhancement drugs (surprise, surprise), not a Swine Flu vaccine.

The second batch was used to harvest emails for spammers. They employed an automatic subject/body generator and came up with some really sloppy combinations. As seen in the examples below, “Swine Flu” was not included in the subject, rather, in the body of the emails. In the first example, the spammer combined the economic crisis (subject line) with the Swine Flu epidemic (body). The second email combined poor Andy with Paris Hilton AND Swine Flu…all in one. Quite creative.

Harvest Example

While a harvesting attack is not sent to lure recipients to buy products from various Web sites or download malware, the emails are sent in huge numbers to check the validity of large groups of email addresses. Once valid email addresses have been harvested, spammers use the lists as targets for new attacks.

Seems as though the Swine Flu is spreading around the world virtually now as well…

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