Cybercriminals Merging Physical and Virtual Worlds in Fake Parking Ticket Attack

By Matthew Harwood

A phishing scam involving fake parking tickets and a fake Web site uncovered in Grand Forks, North Dakota, could be the future of malicious activity on the Internet, an IT security specialist told the Grand Forks Herald.

The yellow parking tickets, left around the city, read: "PARKING VIOLATION This vehicle is in violation of standard parking regulations. To view pictures with information about your parking preferences, go to (redacted)."

Lenny Zeltser, who volunteers for the SANS Institute and examined the Web site, says the virus transmitted on it is pedestrian, but it's the lure, the physical ticket directing the mark to go to the Web site, that knocked him over.

"Truly, I have not seen such a creative approach in starting the infection chain before," he said.

Victims that visit the Web site see pictures of cars violating parking regulations. The pictures, as far as Zeltser could tell, were local, although the license plates were blurred.

Zeltser said victims who visit the malicious Web site could fall prey to three possibilities:

1) to enslave computers as "bots," PCs remotely controlled for the purpose of disseminating spam or launching attacks to crash Web sites; 2) to install spyware in computers to obtain users' personal or financial data; 3) to trick victims into buying fake anti-virus software.

"Attackers continue to come up with creative ways of tricking potential victims into installing malicious software," Zeltser blogs on SANS Internet Storm Center. "Merging physical and virtual worlds via objects that point to websites is one way to do this. I imagine we'll be seeing such approaches more often."




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