Rogue US Airways-themed emails distribute ZeuS-based malware

Spam campaign targeting US Airways customers distributes a computer Trojan called GameOver

Cybercriminals are distributing a new piece of malware that's based on the ZeuS computer Trojan through rogue emails that masquerade as US Airways online check-in notifications.

The spam campaign was launched on Mar. 20 and the malicious US Airways-themed emails contain a short description of the airline's online check-in procedure, said Kaspersky Lab security expert Dmitry Tarakanov, in a blog post on Tuesday.

They also include rogue links to view fake flight reservations on the US Airways website that actually point to domain names not connected to the company. Clicking on those links triggers a series of Web redirects that eventually lead to a BlackHole attack page.

BlackHole is a Web attack toolkit commonly used by cybercriminals to infect people's computers with malware. The toolkit exploits vulnerabilities in outdated versions of popular browser plug-ins like Java, Flash Player or Adobe Reader.

In this particular attack, BlackHole is being used distribute an information-stealing Trojan horse called GameOver, which is based on the much older ZeuS malware. The ZeuS source code was leaked on underground forums in May 2011, allowing cyber criminals to use it as a basis for the creation of new computer Trojans.

One particularly interesting aspect of the US Airways-themed attack is the high level of variation of its different elements. "Every object -- domains, links to javascripts, files with exploits, the downloader and ZeuS -- was frequently replaced with a new one," Tarakanov said.

The Kaspersky malware researcher believes that different spam templates might have been used by the attackers, in addition to the US Airways one, in order to target different categories of users.

"Cybercriminals are nothing if not original," Tarakanov said. "And even though this is not the first time they've used a flight-related trick, it's the first time this particular kind of spam has been detected."

As always, users are advised to inspect the destination of links included in email messages before clicking on them, even if the emails appear to originate from people they trust or companies they did business with.

Users should also keep the software installed on their computers up to date at all times, especially popular programs like Adobe Reader, Microsoft Office, Java, Flash Player or the different Web browsers.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?