Ransomware Lurking In New Boston Marathon Themed Spam Campaign

creepy-shadowA huge new spam campaign is pounding the net with ransomware laden messages. The messages claim to offer breaking news and exclusive videos about the Boston Marathon bombings and subsequent manhunt that gripped the city with fear.

Instead the links lead the user to a compromised site that infects the computer with ransomware. This type of malware takes over a computer and locks down all its data and internet access. In order to get it back, the user is told to pay a fee, which can be in the hundreds of dollars. If they refuse to pay they could potentially lose all their files.

A second version of this campaign uses a Java exploit to infect computers with malware that intercepts all network traffic, keystrokes and login credentials. It also uses the computer to pump out massive amounts of spam. The malware is programmed to check what version of Java is running and customizes the attack based on that information. The user is directed to a page displaying 5 different YouTube videos but it also has an embedded Java applet that does the dirty work.

This massive campaign is just one of many. Expect to see more exploiting both the Boston Marathon bombings and the massive manhunt that gripped the city in the days that followed. Spammers love to take advantage of hot news stories, tragedies, natural disasters and other attention getting topics. With Mother’s and Father’s Day coming expect to find spam with those themes as well, along with summer vacation, graduation and World Cup themed spam.

Written by Sue Walsh


  1. Lisa S. · April 27, 2013

    These spam attacks are way too many to remember. I guess all we have to remember is to never open emails that claim there are news in them – just go to a reputable news outlet and read the news there. If the news isn’t there, it’s almost certain it didn’t happen at all. I see this as the only way to make spammers redundant – don’t open news emails and make them spend money without making any from you and sooner or later we’ll win.

  2. Bernard · April 28, 2013

    This is kind of a disturbing story. It pains me to think that some people would really do all they can just to trick others to something illegal even if it means not respecting the tragedy. I hope whoever is behind these nasty schemes will be put behind bars very soon.

  3. Julia · April 30, 2013

    Isn’t this what others call a brand-new kind of kidnap for ransom? The technique is that hackers will access your data through your malware and then prompt you with a message, informing you that you have a very limited time to pay a certain amount. Otherwise, all your files are compromised (which are actually on such situation the moment they take hold of them illegally),

  4. Andrea · April 30, 2013

    Is this similar to that Boston Marathon-themed spam that recently targeted Australia? If it is, then spammers have just shown how capable they are of coming up with different spam or malware out of one big and significant event. Some may not think so, but I believe this is a step up their creative plate. What this means is that we should also start exerting more effort and integrating more creative approaches into the way we handle spam. Otherwise, we’ll just have to contend with Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, 4th of July spam! I definitely do not want that scenario!

  5. Diego · April 30, 2013

    It’s really unfair to drag the Boston Marathon tragedy to spamming. This should be labeled as the certified low. It frustrates me to think that some people are willing to do ANYTHING just to satisfy their whims and greed, even disrespecting the dead and the pain brought about by the bombing.

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