There's a dangerous new spam email making the rounds, disguised as a traffic ticket from the state of New York. Those who follow its instructions and click on the attachment will download malware to their computer.
The email has the eye-catching subject line “Uniform Traffic Ticket.” The body of the email says a hidden camera clocked you speeding in New York City at 7:25 AM on July 5, 2011.
But you weren't anywhere near New York City on July 5. Then again, maybe you were. In either event, the email is designed to spark your fear, anger or curiosity enough to make you want to get to the bottom of this.
Attachment launches a virus
The message concludes by instructing you to print out the email's attachment and send it to court. And, if you don't know better, you just might do it.
“The attached file, called Ticket-O64-211.zip, contains a malicious Trojan horse, designed to download further malicious code onto your computer and compromise your security,” said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, a software security company.
The address on the email is @nyc.gov, but that's simply an alias, designed to increase the credibility of the message. Cluley says his company's anti-virus products identified the malware as Mal/ChepVil-A and the Trojan as Troj/Invo-zip.
Make sure you are protected
“Users of other anti-virus products would be wise to check that they are protected, as this attack is being aggressively spammed out right now,” Cluley wrote in his blog.
By downloading a Trojan, a computer user opens their machine up to being remotely controlled by a hacker. The hacker can use it as a “zombie” computer, sending out millions of other spam messages. It can also log key strokes, allowing the hacker to steal passwords and gain access to bank and other types of accounts.