Skype Falls Victim to New Spam Campaign


Skype is the latest brand to fall victim to brand jacking. In a newly detected spam campaign, the popular VOIP service is being used in spam messages designed to look like email notifications from friends with the question “Is this your profile?” and a link. Unsuspecting recipients who click on the link are sent to a site that installs malware on their computers, but not just your run of the mill Trojan. Instead, users are infected with the rudely named Dorkbot worm.

Dorkbot is what is known as ransomware.  Once installed the worm encrypts every bit of data on the user’s machine, locks them out, and demands a payment of $200 in exchange for releasing the now unusable computer.

A Skype spokesperson told UK tech site V3 they were aware of the threat and urged users to use common sense and protect themselves.

“Skype takes the user experience very seriously, particularly when it comes to security. We are aware of this malicious activity and are working quickly to mitigate its impact,” it said. “We strongly recommend upgrading to the newest Skype version and applying updated security features on your computer. Additionally, following links – even when from your contacts – that look strange or are unexpected is not advisable.”

Ransomware is not new, but it is getting increasingly popular and increasingly sophisticated as spammers look for easier and quicker ways to rake in cash. It’s safe to say that most people, upon finding their computer and data locked up and unusable, might panic and be willing to pay whatever it takes to fix things, and that’s what the spammer or group behind this latest campaign is hoping for.

Written by Sue Walsh


  1. Tyler · October 17, 2012

    Honestly, I really don’t like Skype at all. It just slows down my computer for some reason, and its app version isn’t the best either. But then, you know, I preferred to keep my silence for a long time because I know that I belong to the minority. Anyway, this kind of story makes me angry and sad at the same time. You know, if these huge companies are still getting hit by spam, then what does it make us? We become completely powerless. It’s like when it comes to fighting spam, we’re taking one step forward but two steps backward.

  2. Elizabeth · October 19, 2012

    We do expect these companies to have some of the toughest or strongest anti-spam or malware technologies, and I think they do. However, we also have to factor the fact spam is created by thinking, observing people. Soon they’ll discover the system and learn to beat it. So we should not be surprised if software or brands like Skype, Amazon, and Gmail are hit by malicious campaigns. What’s important is that they continue to innovate and improve their systems so they’ll be able to put an end to the spread and hopefully give them enough lead time before the spammers strike back.

  3. Lydia · October 20, 2012

    This is the first time I hear about ransomware and it sounds pretty scary. Common spam looks so innocent compared to ransomware. Does it look user files or only system files? If it is the second, you can re-install without paying a ransom. In any case, I think you must report the address to which you are asked to make the payment, so that police can catch the criminals.

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