March Madness 2012: New Types of Malware & Scams

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It's March Madness time, and that means that everybody's making brackets.  The folks over at are deep into an event they're calling "Malware Madness 2012", ranking the vilest and most malicious malware programs of all time.  While the voting that advances the "winners" through the bracket serves as a little bit of fun, the summaries of the various malware programs that sit beside the voting box serve as a reminder of exactly how dangerous and destructive some of these programs really were.

One thing that this bracket makes me think of is that they'll likely never run out of candidates for future brackets since even though we're only a few months in to 2012 we've already seen several new types of malware for PCs and smartphones.  Many in the IT industry think that it's just going to get worse, too; a study recently released by Norman ASA shows that 62% of IT analysts worry that malware is becoming more and more sophisticated at a faster rate than they're able to upgrade their analytical capabilities. The hackers, scammers and programmers who code viruses and malware aren't going to let up, so it's only a matter of time until another major outbreak similar to Melissa or Koobface occurs.

With that in mind, here are a few of the latest malware alerts that have been released as well as a few scams that you should keep an eye out for.

  • Fake DHL tracking notices are being sent out that contain links to a malware package known as "Mal/BredoZp-B."  This is actually the second time that these tracking notices have made the rounds; the first time was last October, when they directed users to a link that downloaded a virus.
  • Business owners have started receiving fake notices from the IRS regarding the status of a tax refund appeal, usually stating that the appeal has been declined.  The email contains an attachment that supposedly has more information on the appeal but which in fact contains the "Mal/Iframe-AE" malware installer.
  • A new malware program called "Georbot" has been identified. This one scans computers for files and data used in remote access, copying them and sending them to an external server.  Scammers can then use this information to gain remote access to the computer using the same remote access software that the owner uses.
  • Scammers trying to take advantage of the recent shutdown of Megaupload have begun sending emails claiming to be from a law firm representing some of the companies whose products were illegally hosted on the file sharing site.  The emails make claims of potential lawsuits and offer the recipient a chance to settle out of court by sending money to the scammer by mail.
  • A new piece of Mac OS X malware has been discovered by the Mac-centric security firm Intego; the malware comes in the form of an attachment claiming to be pictures of models or celebrities but in fact is an archive file containing the "Imuler.C" trojan which scours the computer for personal information and uploads it to a remote server.  Intego considers the malware to be low-risk and not widespread, but it serves as a good reminder that even Macs can be targeted from time to time.

As always, make sure that your antivirus and antimalware software is up-to-date and that you scan your computer regularly.  While quick scans are fine for day-to-day use, you should also perform thorough scans that scan everything on a regular basis to make sure that there aren't any surprises hiding in places that your basic quick scan won't go.  Try to stay informed of the various scams and cyber related threats, don't click on any links in unexpected emails or emails about shipments, lawsuits or tax refunds that don't make sense; if you have any questions, contact the website, business or organization that the email claims to be from directly using contact information from their website to report the suspicious email and find out what's really going on.

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