Big brands utilized in malware distribution

Commtouch security analysts have seen substantial continued blending of big brand names with malware.

Researchers named the following top seven brands that were abused in various third-party email attacks:

Amazon – Order confirmation emails that didn’t describe the order, but only the balance

AT&T Wireless – Wireless bill summaries mentioned large account balances

Citi – Offered the ability to view your Citi credit card online, showing extremely high balances – Emails thanked the recipient for joining and provided links to confirm

Craigslist – With varying email subjects, messages included plausible sounding Craigslist posts

LinkedIn – Emails mixed pending LinkedIn invitations with messages awaiting responses

Verizon Wireless – Bill summary emails that copied the AT&T Wireless approach

A further example of a blended email/Web malware attack includes usage of the well-known Dropbox storage/sharing network. The Spanish emails offer free movie tickets. Clicking on the links leads to several redirects and scripts.

One of Dropbox’s features allows users to create publicly available folders, which essentially turns Dropbox into a free hosting site. The use of the popular service in this way provides a powerful platform for malware distribution.

“It’s clear that attackers continue to increasingly exploit the comfort level that people have gained with big online brands – and they’re doing so in craftier and craftier ways,” said Haniel Ilouz, vice president of global engineering at Commtouch.

“Not only are easily recognized brands utilized, but clever fake collaboration between sites such as Facebook and Digg show the ever-innovative approaches attackers deploy,” he added.

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