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Thar she blows! Beware the latest phishing attack


Phony Emails lurk in the shallows

There is a new malware virus afoot and it is targeted at the C-level executive. About one year ago there were a wave of Email messages targeted at C-level executives that carried a keystroke logger payload; it used a lure of fake complaints against the executive's company in an attempt to get the executives to infect themselves by clicking on it. Unfortunately, it worked most of the time, as most executives believed the message was legitimate since the Email included both the executive’s name and company.

The new phishing attack follows this same tactic by personally identifying the executive and the company, and this time it also includes the company’s telephone number. The personally identifiable information makes the phony Email look legitimate, since most scammers don’t usually have this detailed, specific information when they send out mass mailings of viruses and spam.

This type of attack on C-level executives is apparently known as “whaling,” since the scammers are attacking the biggest fish that they think they can hook, and these executives are generally the wealthiest at the top of company with the most to lose.

This latest Email attack appears to come from the U.S. District Court in the form of a Subpoena demanding an appearance before a civil Grand Jury. Appearances before Grand Juries are serious matters, and if an executive didn’t stop to think that the U.S. District Court does not send Emails or notify defendants by Email, the knee jerk reaction might be to open something that appears this important.

Once opened, there is a link to download that comes from a phony domain: //  This is not a legitimate Web address, since the U.S. government uses the “.gov” domain. Further, the U.S. Courts do not send any official business by Email; it is always sent by U.S. Mail, personally addressed and usually a signature is required to show proof of delivery.

Executives, beware: don’t get hooked by this scheme.

Last modified on 16 April 2008
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