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Attacks/Breaches

New Drive-By Spam Infects Those Who Open Email -- No Attachment Needed

Getting infected just got a whole lot easier, researchers say

Attackers have developed a new way to infect your PC through email -- without forcing you to click on an attachment.

According to researchers at eleven, a German security firm, the new drive-by spam automatically downloads malware when an email is opened in the email client. The user doesn't have to click on a link or open an attachment -- just opening the email is enough.

"The new generation of email-borne malware consists of HTML e-mails which contain a JavaScript which automatically downloads malware when the email is opened," eleven says in a news release."This is similar to so-called drive-by downloads, which infect a PC by opening an infected website in the browser."

The current wave of drive-by spam contains the subject "Banking security update" and has a sender address with the domain fdic.com. If the email client allows HTML emails to be displayed, the HTML code is immediately activated.

The user only sees the note "Loading…Please wait," eleven says. In the meantime, the attempt is made to scan the PC and download malware.

Aside from updating their anti-spam and anti-malware tools, users can fight the new attack by deactivating the display of HTML e-mails in their email client, eleven advises. They can choose the option of displaying emails in pure-text format only.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Comment" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message. Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

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Arkadia
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Arkadia,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/2/2012 | 3:28:13 PM
re: New Drive-By Spam Infects Those Who Open Email -- No Attachment Needed
There is very little information provided regarding how this allegedly works.- Last time I checked, scripting is turned off almost universally in email clients.- When was the last time you viewed an interactive email?- My understanding is that emails can have infected attachments, or-malformed embedded media that takes advantage of coding vulnerabilities in media handling subsystems.- I find it completely ridiculous that in 2012, we can have amazingly interactive Web sites and mobile apps, but the recommendation for email is to just display plain-text, and party like its 1984.
joes12
50%
50%
joes12,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/30/2012 | 4:36:34 AM
re: New Drive-By Spam Infects Those Who Open Email -- No Attachment Needed
Users can also have- a well protected antivirus software through which they will be able to fight against attackers,then deactivating the display of HTML would also work.-
Kelli99
50%
50%
Kelli99,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/29/2012 | 11:09:00 PM
re: New Drive-By Spam Infects Those Who Open Email -- No Attachment Needed
You should really talk a little about how some email clients, like TrulyMail, automatically strip out all scripts from email messages before they get shown. There are industry solutions to the kinds of problems you're addressing.
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