Regular readers of this site are aware, that some time ago I wrote “Now that Barack Obama has been officially nominated to carry the Democrats’ banner into the upcoming U.S. presidential election, be prepared for a deluge of spam scams perpetrated by cyber-criminals based on his popularity”.
Most of the scam emails I’ve seen, so far, are crafted around spicy, scandalous, and salacious stories.
So, for those of us who aren’t particularly enamored with salacious stories, or the web sites that seem to specialize in them, cyber-criminals have developed a different approach (still social engineering of course), to convince you to click on spam email containing enclosed links.
According to Trend Micro, a new email currently circulating, asks the recipient to participate in a survey with the sweetener being a chance to win a $500 gas card. We all love contests, and with the chance to win $500 in gas, who wouldn’t click on the link. Good old social engineering – it really works doesn’t it?
But here’s the downside; click on the link and you arrive on the Smileycentral.com, web site. Despite the view held by many, that this is a safe site, the fact is, this site is a distributor of malware under the best of circumstances.
The prominent “Always Free” button on this site, if clicked, will lead to a request that you download an ActiveX control which, when downloaded, will begin the process of installing the ADW_MYWEBSEARCH Trojan on your system.
In addition to this new email scam, there are a number of other Barack Obama related email scams currently making the rounds on the Internet, most of which purport to offer access to sex tapes “starring” Obama.
I know, you’re asking yourself – who could possibly believe this kind of nonsense?
The simple answer is this – cyber-criminals know that by sending out countless billions of this type of email, enough people will respond, by clicking on the embedded link, that it will produce millions of dollars in easy pickings.
Incredible as it may seem, billions (that’s right billions), of spam email messages are generated every hour through so called botnets; zombie computers controlled by cyber-criminals.
Until the U.S. election is over – 6 weeks from now –emails referring to Barack Obama should be automatically treated as a threat to your computer.
Follow the tips below to protect yourself against these and other threats.
Install an Internet Browser add-on such as WOT (my personal favorite), which provides detailed test results on a site’s safety; protecting you from security threats including spyware, adware, spam, viruses, browser exploits, and online scams.
As an addition to your existing malware applications, download and install ThreatFire 3 (free from PC Tools), which blocks mal-ware, including zero-day threats, by analyzing program behavior and it does a stellar job. This is one of the security applications that forms part of my front line defenses. I have found it to have high success rate at blocking mal-ware based on analysis of behavior.
Don’t open emails that come from untrusted sources.
Don’t run files that you receive via email without making sure of their origin.
Don’t click links in emails. If they come from a known source, type them on the browser’s address bar. If they come from an untrusted source, simply ignore them, as they could take you to a web designed to download malware onto your computer.
Keep your computer protected. Install a security solution and keep it up-to-date.
Ensure your anti-virus software scans all e-mail attachments
Be proactive when it comes to your computer’s security; make sure you have adequate software based protection to reduce the chances that your machine will become infected.
If you are unsure if your software based protection is up to the task then checkout, “Free Windows Software You Can’t Afford Not to Have”, on this site.