Zombie makers turning to fake greeting cards

More than half of all malicious e-mail is now made up of fake e-mail greetings, according to SurfControl.

The next email greeting card you get may come with a nasty surprise. According to Internet security vendor, SurfControl, attackers are increasingly using fake email cards as a way of getting malicious software installed on computers.

In fact, the amount of malicious email being disguised as cards was up about 90 per cent from last year and now made up more than half of all malicious email being sent, SurfControl product manager, Paris Trudeau, said.

The number of phishing attacks, in which users are tricked into entering personal information on fake websites, is also on the rise. But increasingly, attackers were looking for ways to trick users into downloading software that could be used to take over a computer, turning it into a so-called zombie machine, she said.

This could often be done by sending an email greeting that enticed users to click on a maliciously encoded Web page, Trudeau said. Another such trick was to mask an email message so it appeared to originate from the user's IT department, she said.

Overall, malicious email was on the rise during the second quarter of 2005. SurfControl said its email filters tracked about 30 per cent more such messages than during the same period last year.

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