SOURCE: BitDefender

BitDefender

May 31, 2011 15:38 ET

Romanian President Declared Dead by E-mail Scam

Hoax E-mails Relay the False News That Romanian President, Traian Basescu, Was Disfigured and Killed Following a Car Accident; This Is Just the Latest in a Line of Scams Aimed at Exploiting Celebrity Status to Drive Users to Malware

BUCHAREST, ROMANIA--(Marketwire - May 31, 2011) - A recently discovered spam wave banks on Romanian president's image to help spread a malicious bot allowing its creators to take control over the infected systems. The unsolicited e-mail relies on a classic combination of social engineering tricks: promised photo content and awe-inducing events, says specialists from Bucharest-based antivirus producer BitDefender.

This is only one example in a longer series of malware dissemination schemes using celebrity or public figure baits. One such recent spam wave promised to show video or photo content depicting the death of Al Qaida leader, Osama bin Laden. Another breaking news event put to the same malicious use is the incident involving Barack Obama's car, which took place during the US President's visit to Ireland.

"Using celebrities and sensational stories as bait for downloading malware is a popular tactic, and highlights how the social engineering element of a scam is often key to whether it succeeds or fails," declares Catalin Cosoi, Head of the BitDefender Online Threat Labs.

"The malware component embedded in this particular message is highly complex, and it enables the installation of a bot on the victim's computer. Having secured control over the respective machine, the cybercriminal can download files from it, access the victim's private information as well as track the victim's keystrokes. This would eventually result in the theft of essential data, such as passwords, credit card series or other confidential data," adds Cosoi.

The Romanian version of these celebrity-themed scams also boasts a very interesting source, namely Antena 3, one of the most popular TV stations in Romania. The spam message is spoofing one of the TV station's e-mail services, which adds to the credibility of the scam.

All BitDefender users are now protected against this threat. It is identified as Dropped:Trojan.Fakealert.13085 by BitDefender specialists. The best way to stay safe from the latest and most complex e-threats is to install and use an updated anti-malware suite complete with a firewall, an antivirus scanner and an anti-spam filter. BitDefender Internet Security 2011 is now available for a 40 day free trial.

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BitDefender is the creator of one of the industry's fastest and most effective lines of internationally certified security software. Since its inception in 2001, BitDefender has continued to raise the bar and set new standards in proactive threat prevention. Every day, BitDefender protects tens of millions of home and corporate users across the globe -- giving them the peace of mind of knowing that their digital experiences will be secure. BitDefender solutions are distributed by a global network of value-added distribution and reseller partners in more than 100 countries worldwide.

Recently, the company has won a range of key independent awards in the UK, US and Germany, including Which? magazine and Stiftung Warentest. More information about BitDefender and its products is available at the company's security solutions press room. Additionally, BitDefender's www.malwarecity.com provides background and the latest updates on security threats helping users stay informed in the everyday battle against malware.

Note: All product and company names mentioned herein are for identification purposes only and are the property of, and may be trademarks of, their respective owners. BitDefender makes no appreciation with respect to the Romanian President or to other public organizations or persons in this article, the use of such persons/organizations' name being solely intended to help present public interest news.

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