The botnet is spreading spam messages that contain the subject line “Happy New Year 2010” and provide a link for what the email claims to be a New Year's greeting card, Mikko Hyppönen, chief research officer at anti-virus provider F-Secure, told SCMagazineUS.com on Thursday. The campaign began early Thursday.
If followed, the link directs users to a domain that attempts to exploit known vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash and Reader and Internet Explorer, Hyppönen said. Attackers are banking that users will have at least one of these programs not up to date with the latest patches.
“As we know, more often than not, this will work,” he said.
The payload in this particular campaign is Trojan-Downloader:W32/Agent.MUG, a version of the Waledac trojan, Hyppönen said. Once the trojan is installed, the user will become part of the Waledac botnet. Doing so gives attackers full access to a user's machine and the ability to steal data from the PC.
An infected system can also be remotely commanded to download fake anti-virus programs, send spam, or participate in distributed denial-of-service attacks, Randy Abrams, director of technical education at anti-virus vendor ESET, told SCMagazineUS.com on Thursday in an email.
Users should be aware of this campaign and other similar ones which may crop up over the next several days, experts said.
“In virtually all cases, the fake e-card is easy to spot if a user realizes that legitimate e-cards always have the name of the sender in the subject line," Abrams said. “The fakes may not have a name at all or say something like ‘a friend', ‘a coworker' and so on.”