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Trojan Hitting Hotmail and Yahoo!

Friday, July 13th, 2007 by | Filed Under: E-Mail Help, Security Help
 
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Q:
Do you have any information about a new Trojan hitting Hotmail and Yahoo!? I heard a snippet about it the other day, but I would like to know more about it. If you know anything, please share it with us!

A:
Well, unfortunately, you heard right. As of July 6, 2007, it seems as if various Hotmail and Yahoo! accounts have been hijacked to send out spam messages. And we’re not talking about just a few spam e-mails here. They have been sending out thousands upon thousands since the beginning of all this. Also, just in case you’re wondering, all of this information is coming from the security firm of BitDefender. Alright, now that you know the basics of the situation, let’s look into this a little more.

The reason all of this is happening is because Hotmail and Yahoo! have been hit by a new Trojan virus called Trojan.Spammer.HotLan.A. Once the Trojan hits either a Hotmail or Yahoo! account, it starts to generate spam messages and sends them out. The Trojan is also able to generate new Webmail accounts automatically. And on top of all that, the malware has also found a way to get past the CAPTCHA tests that are used for anti-spam purposes.

This is basically what goes on. The Trojan accesses a Webmail account and then goes and finds encrypted spam messages to use. It then decrypts those messages so they can be sent out to any legitimate e-mail address it can find. So, as you can see, users can be hit unexpectedly and very quickly if they don’t keep their eyes open. And that includes you if you have a Hotmail or Yahoo! account.

Now, in your Inbox, the e-mail you’ll see is from a Web site that is trying to sell pharmacy products. This is something that can be tempting and it can seem very legit, so it’s easy for the Trojan to confirm your e-mail address and then get ahold of even more by rooting through your contacts list.

As of now, according to the head of the BitDefender antivirus lab, approximately 500 new accounts are being created every hour. But as a whole, over 15,000 Hotmail and Yahoo! accounts have been used. Therefore, it’s really hard to determine how many spam e-mails have gone out, because the Trojan is able to multiply them without any trouble.

Please remember that I’m not trying to frighten you with this information. It is my job to keep you informed and that’s what I always intend to do. I know this news is pretty scary for any of you who are using Hotmail or Yahoo!, but please don’t panic too much. Just keep your eyes open for suspicious e-mails and delete any unusual e-mails as quickly as you can. Once you delete them from your Inbox, make sure they are deleted from your Trash folder as well. Also, be sure to run your antivirus, spyware, etc. scans on a regular basis. If there’s anything going on within your system in terms of a Trojan, your security programs will be able to catch it.

Again, don’t panic. Just be cautious and use some common sense when you’re checking your e-mail each day. If you do that, you’re going to be just fine. And by that time, the pros will probably have an easy fix for this and they’ll put a stop to it anyway. There’s always hope in tomorrow!

~ Erin

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