Fresh off the wires from IT Security firm Sophos this morning comes word of the hottest new trend in online pharmaceutical spam. It seems the new fad is linking to innocent, but hacked, websites which redirect to an on-line store. This can confuse spam blockers, who use the targets of links in email messages to determine how legitimate the message is. The spillover effect of this being that innocent sites become recognised by anti-spam products as being home to spam.
The common denominator among the hacked sites, according to Sophos, is the use of PHP, which despite suffering from numerous vunerabilities in the near past, is often run unpatched.
Here's an example of the new spam:
Which is simply an image residing on an exploited site pointing to a link on another exploited website.
Graham Cluley, a consultant from Sophos weighs in: "To the naked eye it looks like a regular spam message advertising Viagra and Cialis. But it is actually pointing to a website that is owned by someone who is probably completely unaware that spammers have hacked into their site, and are redirecting visitors to an online pharmacy. Website owners have a duty to properly patch their sites against the latest vulnerabilities, or risk being exploited by spammers."
"If people visit the webpage on the hacked website they will then be automatically redirected to the real destination: a site pushing drugs," continued Cluley. "Web surfers probably wouldn't even notice they are being hopped across the net. The intention of the spammers is not to confuse their potential purchasers but to try and slip past anti-spam products."
What is the world coming to when respectable sites like www.dickcheneyshotmetoo.com have their reputations besmirched in this way.
Posted by Nick Gibson.