by Laurianne McLaughlin

Saddam Alive. Fidel Dead. If You Clicked, Your PC’s Sending 3500 Spams Per Minute

Jan 22, 20072 mins

As if that wave of picture postcard spam before Christmas wasn’t bad enough, a new wave of spam is preying upon those suffering from Europe’s recent storms  — and cashing in on Americans’ fears. Symantec advises that the Trojan.Peacomm or “Storm Worm” malware, which hit Europe on Friday, arriving via an email promising news coverage of the European storms, is now fooling U.S. computer users with new messages. The malware travels in an email touting a news item or video clip with titles including: “Saddam Hussein Alive,” “Fidel Castro Dead,” “Chinese Missile Shot Down U.S. Aircraft” and “Naked teens attack home director.”

Somebody in Russia, where Symantec says the malware appears to be originating, has a strange sense of humor about the interests of the average American, it seems.

Symantec raised the risk level of the worm today, saying the malware author had promptly adjusted his tactics over the weekend as security companies reponded to the threat.

If you do click on the “video file” attachment, your PC will become infected with a Trojan Horse program and then used to send out more spam — 3500 spam messages per minute, on average, according to what Symantec has seen of this latest worm in its labs.

Sending Trojan horse programs via email attachments is an old technique: What’s new this time is how timely the message titles have been, and how quickly the author has morphed those titles to keep people clicking. The end goal of all this effort? According to Symantec, the whole episode is apparently designed to make money for the author by pumping up some penny stocks.