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2nd Story

April spam blast plays on fear

Like a veteran boxer, spammers set up computer users with a one-two punch in an April spam attack that is reportedly the biggest in the last 12 months.

First, the spammers played on PC users need for romance with subject headings such as "Our Love Nest," "A Token of My Love" in an attack that started late on April. Then, according to an April 17 Computerworld report, with the news of a worm attack occurring, the perpetrators switched their tactics.

The number of love-labeled messages dropped drastically. Instead, computer users started receiving emails on April 12 offering a "security patch" that was to protect them. Messages with "Worm Alert!" and "Virus Activity Detected!" subject line were not actually warning of a malware attack, but were actually the threat itself! A number of these messages told users they needed to install the patch to keep using their email or it would be cut off. The zip file included with the messages is protected by a password provided in the email. It was just another step to give users a false sense of security.

Spammers are getting smarter and smarter! Not only are they creating sophisticated threats, the attackers are also using psychology. They have us infecting ourselves as we try to do the opposite.

It is sad, but one must be suspicious of who is offering to help. It seems simple, but following the attack, which included reportedly about 60 million messages, computer security experts are encouraging users to not download any attachments unless they know the sender and are aware of what it is.

The attachments sent in the April attack contained a new version of the Storm Trojan threat. It earned its nickname when it first appeared in January as the message subject lines promised such news as storms in Europe. It is also known as Trojan.Peacomm.

The attached zip file is actually a Trojan horse that installs as a system driver on your PC. It then goes to work on various tasks. These can include stealing confidential information, disabling security software and sending out copies of itself to people on your email list.

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