Tuesday, November 20, 2007

DOJ is the latest badge of authority phishermen are using to net victims

This is the DOJ banner used in the screenshot of the phishy e-mail Websense is reporting. Please note, in this instance, I merely copied it right from the DOJ website. With minimal knowledge, just about anyone can do this with any picture from a website.

Apparently, Websense deserves credit for discovering a Trojan downloader pretending to be a e-mail from the Department of Justice (DOJ). Clicking on this attachment is likely to turn your computer into a zombie (part of a botnet) used to send more spam, or even worse used to steal information stored on your computer.

This might turn you into an identity theft statistic, depending what personal and financial information you store on your computer.

Here is the alert from Websense:

Websense® Security Labs™ has discovered a new email attack variant similar to attacks previously launched on the IRS and Better Business Bureau. The spoofed email claims to be from the United States Department of Justice (USDOJ). We have been tracking these attacks and have previously reported on them on our site.

The message claims that a complaint to the USDOJ has been filed against the recipient's company. The email informs the reader that a copy of the original complaint has been attached to the email.

The attached "complaint" is a Trojan Downloader .scr file with an MD5 of aeb784bc17c4c7e6edc5f1faaa9ed24f.

None of the major anti-virus vendors detected the malicious code.

Websense Security customers are protected from this threat.

In the e-mail Websense used as an example, it refers to a specific company. This means that this attack is possibly directly targeting people, who are associated with this company. This type of more directed attack has is now being referred to as spear phishing.

Spoofing (impersonating) government agencies is nothing new. The Phishermen use the badge of authority the name of these agencies invoke to trick people into clicking on the attachments in their spam e-mails.

The warning from Websense mentions that the IRS (Internal Reveue Service),BBB (Better Business Bureau) and many others have had had their badges of authority used to lure victims into the Phishermen's web.

I was unable to find a recent press release on this directly from DOJ, however a press release on a similiar attack using DOJ's name was released in June.

In it they speak to the fact that DOJ would never send a communication of this nature via e-mail:

The Department of Justice did not send these unsolicited email messages—and would not send such messages to the public via email. Similar hoaxes have been recently perpetrated in the names of various governmental entities, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Internal Revenue Service. Email users should be especially wary of unsolicited warning messages that purport to come from U.S. governmental agencies directing them to click on file attachments or to provide sensitive personal information.

These spam email messages are bogus and should be immediately deleted. Computers may be put at risk simply by an attempt to examine these messages for signs of fraud. It is possible that by “double-clicking” on attachments to these messages, recipients will cause malicious software – e.g., viruses, keystroke loggers, or other Trojan horse programs – to be launched on their computers.

Do not open any attachment to such messages. Delete the e-mail. Empty the deleted items folder.

If you have received this, or a similar hoax, please file a complaint at http://www.ic3.gov/.
In this memo, they also offered some educational resources, which I highly recommend if you are unfamiliar with how the dark side of the Internet works:

Consumers can learn more about protecting themselves from malicious spyware and bogus e-mails at OnGuardOnline.gov, a Web site created by the Department of Justice in partnership with other federal agencies and the technology industry to help consumers stay safe online. The site features modules on spyware and phishing, at http://onguardonline.gov/spyware.html and http://onguardonline.gov/phishing.html.

Current Websense alert, here.

June alert from DOJ on similar attack, here.

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