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[ISN] Cyber thieves piggyback off Stratfor breach, target feds


By Aliya Sternstein

Hackers posing as officials from the geopolitical analysis publisher Stratfor are emailing infected links to government subscribers whose email addresses were stolen during an earlier raid on the company's computers, Microsoft researchers say.

To expose the ruse, Stratfor has instituted a temporary no-link policy for all official emails, according to a notice on the company's website. The policy is fallout from the Christmas Day 2011 data breach, when hacker collective Anonymous claimed responsibility for exposing the credit card data and email addresses of federal personnel. Potentially more than 860,000 public and private sector subscribers to Stratfor's online analysis were affected.

Now, cyber crooks are taking financial advantage of the addresses, according to Microsoft research published Monday. The bad guys are employing social engineering to trick Stratfor subscribers into visiting malicious websites. Their messages, which were written on apparent Stratfor letterhead and captured by Microsoft, state, "we strongly discourage you to open emails and attachments from doubtful senders" and "we also warn you about the distribution of harmful software through our website." The messages then direct readers to download software that will infect their computers.

In reality, if wary subscribers ignore the messages and go to the company's website they will see alerts discrediting the senders of these messages.


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