Last updated on April 19, 2014 at 13:20 EDT

Election of New Pope Becomes Latest Lure in Malware and Phishing Attacks

March 21, 2013

Fake CNN breaking news alerts use news of the day to serve malware – Cyprus financial crisis also exploited by cybercriminals

MCLEAN, Virginia, March 21, 2013 /PRNewswire/ –

Commtouch(R) (NASDAQ: CTCH), a leading provider of Internet security technology and
cloud-based services, warns that cybercriminals are using the public interest in the
election of Pope Francis as the latest bait in malware, phishing and spam attacks.
Commtouch labs have identified a drive-by malware campaign that disguises as a bogus CNN
breaking news alert.

http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20120501/529254 )

The e-mail links to a manipulated Website that, when opened in the browser, infects
the user’s computer with the Blackhole Exploit Kit, a popular tool among cybercriminals to
deliver various kinds of malware. Over the past 12 months, drive-by attacks – which use a
link to an infected Web site instead of including the malware in the email attachment -
have become a favorite delivery method for viruses and Trojans. The current campaign uses
a fake sender email address consistently named “CNN Breaking News.” The spam message
usually contains subject lines such as:

        - Opinion: Family sued new Pope. Exclusive!
        - Opinion: New pope tries to shake off the past
        - Opinion: Can New-Pope Benedict be Sued for the Sex Abuse Cases?

Commtouch labs have so far seen three significant waves of the pope-related spam
earlier this week. In those waves, more than one quarter of all emails (27%) came from
addresses in the United States, while other sources of the attack included IPs from
eastern European countries such as Bulgaria and Serbia as well as Brazil.

This campaign is part of a wider effort to use current news events for distributing
spam and malware. Currently, Commtouch labs are tracking drive-by campaigns utilizing the
attempts to solve the financial crisis in Cyprus in the same way. In addition to fake CNN
alerts, the BBC has also been used as an alleged source in email carrying subject lines
such as “BBC-Email: Cyprus bank-Levy Passage in Doubt as EU Shows Aggression”. Commtouch
warns users to be particularly wary of email news alerts at the current time.

Analyzing more than 12 billion transactions every day at a rate of more than 138,000 a
second, Commtouch and its Internet Threat Analysis Team identify threats based on a
comprehensive analysis using Commtouch’s GlobalView(TM) Cloud
[http://www.commtouch.com/cloud ].

For more details on the new pope spam and other threats, visit


About Commtouch

Commtouch(R) (NASDAQ: CTCH) is a leading provider of Internet security technology and
cloud-based services for vendors and service providers, increasing the value and
profitability of our customers’ solutions by protecting billions of Internet transactions
on a daily basis. With 12 global data centers and award-winning, patented technology,
Commtouch’s email, Web, and antivirus capabilities easily integrate into our customers’
products and solutions, keeping safe more than 350 million end users. To learn more, visit


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SOURCE Commtouch

Source: PR Newswire