Cutwail Botnet Pumping Out X-Rated Spam

The Cutwail botnet has launched a new spam campaign. Security researchers have detected a sharp increase in the number of spam messages with X-rated subject lines and content. The messages offer to help men feel more confident in bed or claim to advertise websites offering free collections of pornographic images or movies. The subject matter is obviously designed to be attention getting, but the links don’t lead to the promised adult material. Instead, anyone who clicks on them will be directed to a shady online pharmacy site that offers fake versions of popular prescription drugs like Viagra, and Xanax. These sites have been mentioned here before. It’s likely they are run by factories in India and China that make counterfeit drugs. The manufacturing process is not regulated or supervised in any way, making the drugs potentially quite dangerous. While there are no reports of anyone ever having become ill from taking them, the FDA issued an advisory warning people to avoid ordering from such sites.

There’s another reason people should stay away as well. As the campaign is being run by a botnet, its goal goes beyond simply selling fake drugs, Cutwail is also looking to propagate itself and increase its stable of zombies, so if you click on any of the links in the spam it sends up, you’ll probably be served up some malware along with those fake drugs.

Cutwail has been around since 2007. In 2010 it launched a DDoS attack against hundreds of popular websites including Paypal, Twitter, and the FBI.

Written by Sue Walsh


  1. Thomas Clark · June 2, 2012

    If these are the messages I’m thinking of, the only real bright spot in this news is that they’re extremely susceptible to being picked up spam filters. I’ve seen a surge in similar messages clogging up my spam folder, with the occasional message here and there making it to my inbox, but the content is so obviously spam that I flag them and the problem has been dying down.

  2. Rick Maroney · June 10, 2012

    That’s right, Thomas. Those controversial pharmaceutical drugs have long been marketed by spammers that spam filters already prune them out from our inboxes. I don’t think it should be considered a threat anymore. Unless they are using new ways outwit our spam filters, aren’t they? If they are, we should be informed.

    For users who still get victimized by those types of spams, I pity them. Their insecurities probably go down so deep that even with years of warnings about emails like those, they still fall victim to them. Because if someone really do need those pharmaceutical drugs, how hard is it to get a prescription and buy them? Or they just really want it cheap, don’t they. Tsk. Tsk. Tsk.

  3. Dan Tomillo · June 15, 2012

    Those subjects really don’t run out of interested people who are willing victims despite repeated warnings.

    The X-rated industry is a multi-BILLION dollar because of those human vulnerabilities. Maybe that’s why those spammers are still trying their luck despite the fact that spam filters have long been taken those emails out of inboxes. And I know why. Even now and then or every so often, we check our SPAM folders to check if there is an email that is illegitimate but has been filtered out. Then, at that point, we see the other emails, as well. And then , we get tempted.

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