Malicious Spam Alert: 'Prime Minister heart attack' trojan

Posted: February 20, 2008

Spam email messages usually mask as something newsworthy and popular to gain the attention of computer users. Recently a malicious spam alert was sent out for email messages containing the following subject lines:

  • Current Australia's Prime Minister survived a hear attack
  • The life of the Prime Minister is in grave danger
  • Prime Minister survived a heard attack

Usually Spam emails spread Trojan infections onto user's computers. The purpose of the emails with the above phrases in the subject line is a focused attack against the Australian computer community. This is just one example of many other spam email subject lines. Other spam messages have used similar subject lines to gain the attention of computer users throughout the world.

The email messages using the above subject lines contain links to malicious URL's or websites. Once the source of the URL's are identified they will be blocked by a URL Filtering Service as reported by Trend Micro. Upon further examination of the URL's in these spam email messages it seems the links lead to a site that contains 2 iFrames. By using iFrames, a website can presents itself in a way where one legitimate site is visible while the malicious website in the second iFrame is not visible. The malicious iFrame portion of the page may access another site that downloads infected files.

The files that the malicious site downloads are identified as update.exe which was detected by Trend Micro as TROJ_Small.GHI, a Trojan infection. Once this update.exe file is executed it downloads 4 additional files, 1.exe, 2.exe, 3.exe and 4.exe. The first file, 1.exe is identified as TROJ_VB.BLV which is another harmful Trojan infection that is known to install an array of malicious files onto an infected computer.

Currently all of the related URL's from this particular spam email are now blocked by the URL Filtering Service according to Trend Micro.

Below is a representation of the actual spam email message from the Australian Computer Emergency Response Team - AusCert. The message contains malicious links. Do not under any circumstances visit the URL's listed on this email message.

-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
Hash: SHA1

===========================================================================
A U S C E R T A L E R T

AL-2007.0026 -- AUSCERT ALERT
[Win]
"Prime Minister heart attack" trojan
19 February 2007

===========================================================================

AusCERT Alert Summary
---------------------

Product: Microsoft Windows
Operating System: Windows
Impact: Execute Arbitrary Code/Commands
Access: Remote/Unauthenticated

OVERVIEW:

AusCERT has received reports, and has observed malicious emails
currently in circulation with a variety of subject lines,
including:

"Current Australia's Prime Minister survived a hear attack"
"The life of the Prime Minister is in grave danger"
"Prime Minister survived a heard attack"

with a link to malicious websites, including:

h**p://www,austr-news,com/
h**p://www,theaunews,com/
h**p://www,theau-news,org/

IMPACT:

AusCERT is in the process of analysing this trojan and no conclusive
information about payload is available at this time. However,
similar incidents have been known to install code designed to steal
online credentials and modify security settings.

MITIGATION:

Users should avoid clicking on any links in email, unless the email
was already expected. Unsolicited e-mail should always be treated
with suspicion. Additional countermeasures for protecting Windows
systems can be found on the AusCERT web site[1].

System administrators may wish to consider monitoring their proxy
logs for access to the following URLs, or blocking them completely:

h**p://www,austr-news,com/
h**p://www,theaunews,com/
h**p://www.theau-news.org/

(redirecting to)

h**p://apicesnn,net/

Please note that the above urls have been intentionally modified.

At the time of publication, the malware payload is not widely
detected by most popular Anti-virus software.

DETAILS:

The malicious email is HTML with content similar to:

--- BEGIN EMAIL SAMPLE ---

SYDNEY, February 18, 2007 08:56pm (AEDT) - The Prime Minister of
Australia, John Howard have survived a heart attack. Mr Howard, 67
years old, was at Kirribilli House in Sydney, his prime residence,
when he was suddenly stricken. Mr Howard was taken to the Royal
North Shore Hospital where the best surgeons of Australia are
struggling for his life.

Click on the link below to get the latest information on the health
of the Prime Minister:

The Australian - keeping the nation informed

John Howard was born on the 26th of July, 1939. Howard is Australia's
second longest serving Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Party
in Australia.

...

--- END EMAIL SAMPLE ---

REFERENCES:

[1] Protecting your computer from malicious code
http://www.auscert.org.au/3352

AusCERT has made every effort to ensure that the information contained
in this document is accurate. However, the decision to use the information
described is the responsibility of each user or organisation. The decision to
follow or act on information or advice contained in this security bulletin is
the responsibility of each user or organisation, and should be considered in
accordance with your organisation's site policies and procedures. AusCERT
takes no responsibility for consequences which may arise from following or
acting on information or advice contained in this security bulletin.

If you believe that your computer system has been compromised or attacked in
any way, we encourage you to let us know by completing the secure National IT
Incident Reporting Form at:

http://www.auscert.org.au/render.html?it=3192

===========================================================================
Australian Computer Emergency Response Team
The University of Queensland
Brisbane
Qld 4072

Internet Email: auscert@auscert.org.au
Facsimile: (07) 3365 7031
Telephone: (07) 3365 4417 (International: +61 7 3365 4417)
AusCERT personnel answer during Queensland business hours
which are GMT+10:00 (AEST).
On call after hours for member emergencies only.
===========================================================================

-----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE-----
Comment: http://www.auscert.org.au/render.html?it=1967

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OaqOkpdimkndJwJchZHJqOKmu4lOHQ4nu+HuuXSZjEfDyx3FS/aGrO4WadxA9wPL
zgdYZraf3z7meDmNdYgc2idfSEm4Y2OhbhyERAa1v3Fgw3u2tEehhpk6mmxeKBpb
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=w6Ri
-----END PGP SIGNATURE-----

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