Fake CNN news items malware campaign spreading rapidly

Summary:A currently active malware campaign taking advantage of a known social engineering tactic, namely, to entice the spammed user into clicking on a site with a fake news item in order to trick them into installing a fake Flash player (flashupdate.exe; get_flash_update.

A currently active malware campaign taking advantage of a known social engineering tactic, namely, to entice the spammed

Fake CNN News Spam
user into clicking on a site with a fake news item in order to trick them into installing a fake Flash player (flashupdate.exe; get_flash_update.exe and watchmovie.mpg.exe), was massively spammed last night, with MX Logic alone detecting over 80 million messages for the past 24 hours, with 5 million sent on an hourly basis :

"Heads up on a new, very high volume Fake CNN News Update spam run that is making the rounds.  The subject of the email is "CNN.com Daily Top 10."  Our Threat Operations Center has seen over 5 million of these just in the last hour alone and over 80 million in the last 24 hours.  This new CNN tactic is likely to be more successful than the single-line spam tactic that we had been seeing over the past several weeks as this message looks like it could be an news update email sent by CNN.  This new message also attempts to trick the user into believing that they signed up to receive it because of their email preference settings at the CNN web site.  If you see this message come into your inbox, delete it immediately."

Approximately, a thousand legitimate and on purposely registered to be abused in the attack domains are currently participating, with the malware authors continuing to use retro client-side exploits like the following detected by ThreatFire's assessment at the end of July, so an end user susceptible to any of these might not even get the chance to deny the download attempt of the binary itself :

"- Old reliable MS06-014 MDAC Vulnerability (nothing new here) - The fresh new Microsoft Office Snapshot Viewer ActiveX control race condition - The one year old Online Media Technologies NCTsoft NCTAudioFile2 ActiveX buffer overflow - A one year old stack overflow in GomManager - The recent RealPlayer.Console heap vulnerability - The 2006 ancient WebViewFolderIcon.setSlice integer overflow vulnerability"

From a social engineering perspective, rogue media codecs started getting replaced by fake Windows Media Players and

Fake Flash Player
other legitimate players, since today's fake applets impersonating legitimate software are starting to look even better than the original ones. Consequently, instead of trying to build trust into an unknown brand, abusing and visually impersonation known brands and their software increases the probability of someone clicking on it.

Moreover, despite that the campaign is faily easy to detect since it's using a static message next to the numerous different topics within the message itself, taking into consideration the fact that just like the majority of today's malware campaigns are taking advantage of outdated and already patched vulnerabilities, ensuring that you're not going to get exploited with last year's security vulnerability is highly recommended. Too bad that millions of Internet users could in fact be exploited in such a way.

Topics: Social Enterprise, Security

About

Dancho Danchev is an independent security consultant and cyber threats analyst, with extensive experience in open source intelligence gathering, and cybercrime incident response. He's been an active security blogger since 2007, and maintains a popular security blog sharing real-time threats intelligence data with the rest of the community... Full Bio

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