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Beware of breaking news spam

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Wednesday August 13, 2008 )

I’m a bit of a news hound and like to know about events as they happen, but recently I’ve been getting rather odd “breaking news”; purportedly from major news services.

Some of these are quite amusing, such as Japan denying that World War 2 never occurred. They are off the wall enough that you’re really tempted to click on the link to “read more”.

However, all is not as it seems. While some of these emails look pretty legit, viewing the source of them shows, like with run of the mill phishing attempts, that the links do not go to a news site, but somewhere else – likely to a page with malware or touting one of the 3 P’s (pills, porn or poker).

The emails appear to be in plain text format, they are actually in HTML – so be cautious. If a story appears to be quite nutty, it’s likely a news spamming attempt. My real concern is that given how popular news alerts are, spammers will make these items more believable by making the item mentioned more mainstream. That will catch a *lot* of folks out – so treat all news alerts with a degree of suspicion.

The easiest way to protect yourself is to go directly to the news site, don’t click on any links. Alternatively, just view the headers to see where the email came from or view the source of the message to determine if the links do actually point to the news site.

As an added layer of protection against this sort of thing, also consider using a 3rd party anti-spam filtering service.


1 comment for Beware of breaking news spam
  1. I know what you mean. I’ve been getting tons of news alert spam in my work email. I actually believed they were real until I looked at the headers and verified the links. They’re definitely made to hook people into infection.

    Comment by Richly N. Chheuy — August 14, 2008 @ 4:38 pm

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