Cybercrooks always latch on to current events to lure unsuspecting Internet users into their traps. It doesn’t matter what type of event it is, a natural disaster, major sporting championship or, in today’s case, Easter, the upcoming Christian holiday.
This morning I received an e-mail (see below) with a colorful picture of a bunny, some chicks, eggs and the subject line “Easter Greeting From Alex.” I have friends named Alex (who doesn’t?) and the thought that one of them might have sent me an Easter greeting crossed my mind. However, being in cybersecurity has taught me to never click on links in e-mail messages, especially these types of animated greetings, so I shared the mail with my colleagues at McAfee Labs instead.
The cutesy image in the message is clickable and so is the text at the bottom of the message “Download Animated Greeting Here”. The McAfee Labs team confirmed my suspicion: Clicking on the image or the link is a mistake; this is a booby trapped message that leads directly to malware that puts an infected PC under the control of the attacker and attempts to steal passwords and other personal information.
The malicious code is identified by McAfee as “PWS-ZBot” – which translated into more plain English means that this is a password stealing program that is part of the ZBot family of malware. It turns infected PCs into zombies in a network of compromised PCs called a botnet.
The “Easter Greeting” was spammed broadly on Monday and is hitting inboxes around the globe, according to McAfee Labs.
The good news about the threat already being identified by McAfee Labs is that is that McAfee software will protect customers against it.
This is a good time to remind computer users of some basic rules for computer safety:
- Don’t click on links in e-mail messages and be extra suspicious of messages like this Easter Greeting. (If you think it is a legitimate greeting that you really want to see, ask the supposed sender by sending a separate e-mail if they sent you a greeting.)
- Run a full, up to date suite of security software
- Ensure your operating system and other applications have the latest patches