Cybercriminals continue to respond with lightning speed when they see an opportunity to exploit a national or global news story to spread malware. In fact criminals are inventing “breaking news” that appears to relate to high-profile current events.
The Commtouch Security Lab continually analyzes malicious campaigns that exploit breaking news using the CNN name and other prominent news outlets to lure email recipients to malicious sites. The average time between an actual news event and its exploitation hovered around 22 hours during the last three months.
On Friday, September 6, malware distributors invented fake news designed to take advantage of public interest in the possibility of a U.S. airstrike against Syria. The emails used the subject line, “The United States Began Bombing,” and were crafted to appear as a legitimate CNN news alert. It is an example of the cybercriminal community harnessing the interest and anxiousness about current events to increase the success of their malicious campaigns.