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Spam Wars — The Revenge of the Last Hope Awakens

Hitting the theater to watch the latest Star Wars movie?

It turns out — some Star Wars fans are also crooks trying to get you to bite on their latest online crime.

Watch the report here:

 

 

 

In a galaxy pretty close by — in fact, right here — spammers are tricking you into opening sketchy e-mails you don’t want to see.

This is Spam Wars.

The spammers have harnessed bots, enslaved them for evil, and sent them on a mission to bomb your inbox.

Your inbox has fortifications, spam filters designed to keep out Nigeria scams, fake Viagra ads and messages with malware that take over your computer.

But the forces of darkness have found a way in — undercover — disguised as a mission of friendship. 

They seek out the handy send-to-a-friend forms on legitimate websites where you can share articles, recipes and products with people you know.

 

Example of a send-to-a-friend form on a recipe site. Image credit: Foodnetwork.com

 

They turn that peaceful shuttle of info from a legit site into a spam missile, said Robert Hamilton with cybersecurity company Imperva.

“That site has a very good reputation and there’s no reason to believe that e-mails coming from, say, that recipe site, would be spam,” Hamilton told Archer News. “So, the spam filters generally let these messages come through. And that’s the reason why these websites are hijacked by what we call these spam bots.”

The bots put in names, e-mail addresses, and then the final touch — parts of Star Wars novels, like this one from Path of Destruction, a Star Wars Legends story.

“’There’s no reason for us to move so soon,’ Des replied, struggling to remain calm. ‘If they start at dusk, it’s going to take at least three hours,’” reads one passage from a spam sample, according to Imperva.

 

Part of a Star Wars novel used for the Star Wars spam campaign, according to Imperva. Image credit: Imperva

 

You get an e-mail that looks like it’s from a friend sharing something for you, with a Star Wars theme to boot.

Chances are, you’re opening this one up — maybe even clicking on the link.

Bad news… it’s spam, leading to a shady gambling site, researchers say. 

And there’s a good chance the next one could be malware that infects your computer.

“Typically, if it goes into your spam folder, you might never even see it,” said Hamilton. “But if it goes into your inbox, there’s probably an order of magnitude more likelihood that you’re actually going to click on that message. So, that’s the danger.”

 

Part of the spammers’ send-to-a-friend attack. Image credit; Imperva

 

So, what now?

You can keep using these send-to-a-friend forms yourself, Hamilton said.

But if you get one that looks a little funky, report it as spam and delete it.

And don’t click on the link.

Why did the spammers choose Star Wars?

“They’re a fan of some of these novels that going into the spam,” Hamilton answered. “It could be any text, but they’re probably just Star Wars fan boys or fan girls.”

“I definitely think they’re Star Wars fans,” he added.

Star Wars fans, but fans of the dark side, where money and crime win out over goodness and light.

Now you know about their scheme, so you can shut it down and come out victorious — no matter what theme they use to get in your inbox.

 

Main image: Spam Wars. Image credit: Archer News

 

Video images: 

Sarlacc bundt cake: Yummy Crumble

Light saber pretzel sticks. Ishouldbemoppingthefloor

Chewie soba: Disposable Aardvarks, Inc

Ewok granola bars: Redefined Mom

Princess Leia Oreo Truffles: The Cookie Rookie

Stormtrooper marshmallows: Catch My Party

Star Wars macarons: SemiSweet

 

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