Computer Crime Research Center


Hackers renew airline-ticket scam spam

Date: October 21, 2008

In a reprise of a summer tactic, hackers are trying to trick people into infecting their PCs with malware by sending them e-mail that poses as bogus airline-ticket invoices and boarding passes, a security company said today.

The spam, which claims to be from Continental Airlines Inc., thanks the recipient for using a new "Buy flight ticket Online" service. It also provides a log-in username and password and says the recipient's credit card has been charged more than $900, according to Trend Micro Inc.'s research.

The message says the attached .zip file includes an invoice and "flight ticket." In fact, noted Trend Micro, the archive file contains an executable file "e-ticket.doc.exe," which is actually a Windows worm that downloads and installs other attack code to the PC.

"It's the old double-extension trick to hopefully fool the user to double-click the attachment," said Joey Costoya, a Trend Micro researcher, in an entry to the company's security blog. "The phrase 'Your credit card has been charged ...' will just add more worry for the user, convincing him more to examine [and] double-click the 'flight details," Costoya added.

An almost-identical attack hit consumers last July when hackers sent spam that masqueraded as mail from Delta Air Lines Inc. and Northwest Airlines Corp. Among the few differences: The current campaign has dramatically bumped up the amount supposedly charged to recipients' credit cards. In July, the figures were often in the $400 range.
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