Malware trying to trick anti-Putin protesters


Security giant Symantec has spotted a spam campaign designed to get malware on anti-Putin campaigner PCs.

Vladimir Putin was re-elected as president of Russia last week, but there have been protests against his rule both pre and post-election.

Now, spam messages have been sent out purporting to contain instructions for rallies against Putin.

The emails included an attachment detected by Symantec as Trojan.Dropper, but those who see the document are presented with details of an apparent anti-Putin meeting that even features a map.

From a spam perspective, this attack is quite unusual mainly because of its size.

However, malicious macros, if enabled, will be running in the background and "a particularly nasty Trojan" is activated, the security giant found.

Various files are then deleted from the user's machine, including .doc, .exe, .xls and .zip files.

"The Trojan also attempts to connect to IP address (down at the time of analysis), which contains links to the notorious Trojan.Smoaler threat," said Symantec's Stephen Doherty, in a blog post.

"Smoaler recently used the domain as part of its command-and-control server and this website formerly resolved to the above IP address.

"Once it has destroyed all of the above files by overwriting them, it then runs code to cause the computer to crash (blue screen) through a call to the RtlSetProcessIsCritical API."

Symantec also noted how unusual the spam attack was, pointing to the size of the emails.

"From a spam perspective, this attack is quite unusual mainly because of its size (average of more than 500 KB). Most spam messages do not exceed 10 KB," Doherty added.

"For example, in the latest Symantec Intelligence report, 56 per cent of all February spam messages were less than 5 KB with 30 per cent between 5 - 10 KB and only 13 per cent greater than 10 KB."

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.