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19 Dec 2006

Windows Vista used as bait in aggressive image spam campaign

Experts at SophosLabs™, Sophos's global network of virus, spyware and spam analysis centers, have reminded computer users of the threat posed by image spam following a new campaign which purports to offer a cut-price edition of Microsoft Windows Vista.

Image spam, which uses a graphic embedded in an email rather than regular text, has grown in popularity amongst spammers attempting to communicate their marketing messages to internet users. Often image spam is used for promoting stock pump-and-dump scams or drugs to help with weight loss and sexual performance. In the latest widespread campaign seen by Sophos experts, image spammers are offering a bargain edition of Microsoft's new operating system, Windows Vista.

The spam email claims that the recipient can save $319.05 by downloading Windows Vista today.

Image spam offering Microsoft Windows Vista
The image spam offers a cut-price copy of Microsoft Windows Vista.

It is unclear whether acting upon the spam would furnish the computer user with a pirated edition of Windows Vista or simply steal their credit card details. Whatever the ruse, Sophos experts recommend that users do not fall into the spammer's trap.

"This widespread spam campaign carries all the hallmarks of a typical image spam. The spammer has added random noise in the form of speckled pixels to make the graphic slightly different on each sending, and users are told to type in the name of the website rather than clicking on a link," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "Approximately 30% of all spam is now using images to try and sneak past anti-spam filters. Computer users need to ensure that they have strong defenses in place or they will continue to be bombarded by nuisances like this."

"The growth of image spam is one of the security stories of the year. Internet users should make it their New Year's resolution to make 2007 the time they got wise to internet threats," continued Cluley. "It's worrying just how poorly educated people are about web and email threats. System administrators and security geeks know about informative websites like GetSafeOnline but the average man in the street hasn't got a clue."

Sophos recommends companies protect themselves with a consolidated solution which can defend against the threats of spam, spyware and viruses.

About Sophos

More than 100 million users in 150 countries rely on Sophos as the best protection against complex threats and data loss. Sophos is committed to providing complete security solutions that are simple to deploy, manage, and use and that deliver the industry's lowest total cost of ownership. Sophos offers award-winning encryption, endpoint security, web, email, mobile and network security solutions backed by SophosLabs - a global network of threat intelligence centers.

Sophos is headquartered in Boston, US and Oxford, UK. More information is available at www.sophos.com.