Botnet shows itself with New Year spam :)

The crims have been at it again this Christmas season (more elsewhere). The latest interesting activity has been a flood of emails with :) as the subject and “Happy new year !” as the text-only payload. Don’t feel left out if you didn’t get one, as they’re only being sent to email addresses made of random numbers at various domains I monitor.

What are the crims up to? Probably testing out mail servers to see if they’ll accept things to random addresses. Every domain should, and deliver them to a human postmaster (not that many net newbies are even aware of this rule). However, there’s nothing to say they can’t also go to analysis tools.

What makes this latest caper interesting is that the botnet they’re coming from doesn’t show up on the usual lists of such things – it’s either new or extended rapidly from an old one. New botnets popping up after Christmas aren’t uncommon as the seasonal fake greeting cards and amazon purchase confirmation trojans are relentless in the days before, together with the lack of staff available over the holiday to deal with them. However, I find this one unusual as most of the IP addresses used to send out the probes are from Europe (Germany and Spain in particular).


New Botnet?

Over the last 24-hours I’ve intercepted several emails containing malicious attachments in .zip files. There’s nothing odd about that, expect these are coming from ‘clean’ IP addresess.

Is this a new Botnet, spreading fast?

Yesterday the subject was “your mailbox has been deactivated” and they pretended to come from the IT support team at your domain name. If you don’t have an IT support team it’s a bit of a giveaway. The message continued:

We are contacting you in regards an unusual activity that was identified in your mailbox. As a result, your mailbox has been deactivated. To restore your mailbox, you are required to extract and run the attached mailbox utility.

Best regards, technical support.

Today they’ve got the subject “Payment request from , where the company varies.

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The full text is:

We recorded a payment request from "" to enable the charge of $ on your account.

The payment is pending for the moment.

If you made this transaction or if you just authorize this payment, please ignore or remove this email message. The transaction will be shown on your monthly statement as "".

If you didn't make this payment and would like to decline it, please download and install the transaction inspector module (attached to this letter).

The interesting thing is that none of these have come from IP addresses that are currently listed as part of a botnet, known spam sources or anything. They’re completely clean. I’ve no proof that the two attacks are related, but I’m suspicious.

If anyone has more parts to the jigsaw, please share them with a comment.