Necurs botnet is behind seasonal campaigns of Valentine’s Day-themed spam

Pierluigi Paganini February 13, 2018

Necurs botnet made headline again, the experts at IBM X-Force research team observed a spike in seasonal campaigns of Valentine’s Day-themed spam emails.

Necurs botnet made headline again, the experts at IBM X-Force research team observed a spike in the activity of the infamous botnet.

Necurs was not active for a long period at the beginning of 2017 and resumed it activity in April 2017. The Necurs botnet was used in the past months to push many other malware, including LockyJaffGlobeImposterDridex , Scarab and the Trickbot.

Scammers are mow using the Necurs botnet to send out an amazing number of messages offering companionship waiting for Valentine’s day.

Crooks are using the spam messages to trick victims into sharing personal photos that are used later by cybercriminals to blackmail the victims.

According to the IBM X-Force team, the campaign started in mid-January, it leverages the overall Necurs botnet that is composed of 6 million bots.

“The current campaign from Necurs reached over 230 million spam messages within a matter of two weeks as the botnet spewed tens of millions of messages in two major bouts. The first surge started on Jan. 16 and ran through Jan. 18; the second started on Jan. 27 and died down on Feb. 3.” reads the analysis published by X-Force researchers.

The expert spotted two current campaigns that sent out a total 230 million spam messages in 14 days-period.

necurs spammers valentines day


The first campaign reached a peak between Jan. 16 and Jan. 18 and the second one began on Jan. 27 and lasted through Feb. 3. Researchers observed an average 30 million spam messages were sent each day.

“Looking at the messages being sent out in excess of 30 million emails a day, the current campaign delivers short email blurbs from supposed Russian women living in the U.S. While typical spam email is notorious for bad spelling and grammar, these samples are rather well-worded.” continues the analysis.”

The experts determined that the spam messages are being sent from about 950,000 unique IP addresses, Most of IP are hosted in Vietnam and India while the top sender IP address is hosted via a Pakistani-based ISP.

“Together, Vietnam and India hosted 55 percent of the IPs from which the spam originated. It’s worth noting that spammers constantly shuffle the resources they leverage and the originating IPs logged in one campaign are not likely to be used in the next one. This is how fraudsters avoid blacklists and blocking.” added the researchers.

After the takedowns of the Andromeda and Avalanche botnets, Necurs remains the largest spam distributor in the cybercrime ecosystem. Crooks will continue to leverage the Necurs botnet for their spam campaigns, for this reason, the most effective countermeasure is to increase employee awareness on such kind of threats.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – Necurs botnet, Valentine’s Day)

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