March 21, 2013
(NASDAQ: CTCH), a leading provider of Internet security technology and cloud-based services, warns that cybercriminals are using the public interest in the election of Pope Francis as the latest bait in malware, phishing and spam attacks. Commtouch labs have identified a drive-by malware campaign that disguises as a bogus CNN breaking news alert.
The e-mail links to a manipulated Website that, when opened in the browser, infects the user's computer with the Blackhole Exploit Kit, a popular tool among cybercriminals to deliver various kinds of malware. Over the past 12 months, drive-by attacks - which use a link to an infected Web site instead of including the malware in the email attachment - have become a favorite delivery method for viruses and Trojans. The current campaign uses a fake sender email address consistently named "CNN Breaking News." The spam message usually contains subject lines such as:
- Opinion: Family sued new Pope. Exclusive!
- Opinion: New pope tries to shake off the past
- Opinion: Can New-Pope Benedict be Sued for the Sex Abuse Cases?
Commtouch labs have so far seen three significant waves of the pope-related spam earlier this week. In those waves, more than one quarter of all emails (27%) came from addresses in
the United States
, while other sources of the attack included IPs from eastern European countries such as
and Serbia as well as
This campaign is part of a wider effort to use current news events for distributing spam and malware. Currently, Commtouch labs are tracking drive-by campaigns utilizing the attempts to solve the financial crisis in
in the same way. In addition to fake CNN alerts, the BBC has also been used as an alleged source in email carrying subject lines such as "BBC-Email:
bank-Levy Passage in Doubt as EU Shows Aggression". Commtouch warns users to be particularly wary of email news alerts at the current time.
Analyzing more than 12 billion transactions every day at a rate of more than 138,000 a second, Commtouch and its Internet Threat Analysis Team identify threats based on a comprehensive analysis using Commtouch's
For more details on the new pope spam and other threats, visit