University warns of MSNBC spam trend

Scam Watch

August 17, 2008|By Dan Thanh Dang

The University of Alabama at Birmingham's Spam Data Mine is warning consumers about a new spam trend using MSNBC that attempts to trick e-mail readers into clicking on a site that will infect their computers.

UAB says that since the new spam attack is based on real e-mail messages sent to MSNBC Alert subscribers, it will be nearly impossible to block the spam without also blocking legitimate MSNBC mail.

Gary Warner, UAB's director of computer forensics, said that for several days last week, one of the top spam messages detected by the Spam Data Mine was "CNN Alerts: my Custom Alert," which forged a CNN e-mail. By midweek those e-mails switched to "msnbc.com - BREAKING NEWS: Americans love law suits for breakfast" and "msnbc.com - BREAKING NEWS: Abortion made illegal in New York."

"Because we analyze large volumes of spam, we were able to identify the point where this campaign switched from CNN to MSNBC and provide compelling evidence that the attack is from the same source," Warner said. "From the MSNBC perspective, the problem is that anyone who subscribes to their alerts will receive a bogus e-mail whose format is exactly the same as a legitimate MSNBC alert. Depending on your e-mail program you can float your mouse over the URL and find out where the message originated, but if you have a program like Outlook, that is not possible."

Do not click on the link in the e-mail, because it will cause your computer to download malicious software that can compromise your privacy and use your computer to send spam, UAB warned.

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