Canadian Pharmacy spam returns with ‘wiki’ spin

Pharmaceutical spam messages have been some of the most commonly used in spam attacks over the past several years. Canada has featured quite prominently in terms of this spam output due to the country’s lower priced pharmaceuticals compared to south of the border. Spammers have long taken advantage of this point and are known for dressing their attacks up to appear as though they are genuine Canadian pharmacies.

According to the June Symantec Intelligence Report, pharmaceutical product spam accounted for 40 per cent of all spam, compared to 64.2 per cent at the end of 2010.

Pharmaceutical products are marketed deceptively using a number of methods. In June, we’ve seen pharmacy spam use two new approaches: a spoof of an online video sharing service and a new online pharmacy brand, exploiting the popularity of the “wiki” name from high-profile Web sites.

Example of spam e-mail claiming to contain a hyperlink to a video-sharing Web site.

The subject line is used to pique recipients’ curiosity and the message body contains a URL that appears to link to a video sharing site, but is in fact a spam URL hosted on a hijacked domain. When clicked, it was found that all URLs redirect to the Canadian Family Pharmacy Web site below.

Example of Wiki Pharmacy Web site linked from spam email.

The second new tactic is the “Wiki” name prefix used to promote fake pharmaceutical products that belong to a new pharmacy brand, WikiPharmacy. The volume of spam in this latest attack is quite high. The popularity of the wiki- name in a number of high-profile Web sites is being exploited, and users must be very careful not to enter personal details on these fake sites.

Example of Wiki Pharmacy Web site linked from spam email.

It is important for businesses to monitor pharmacy spam trends as these threats continue to evolve. Best practices should always include adopting security services and solutions to protect PCs.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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