Necurs pump-and-dump spam campaign pushes obscure cryptocurrency

Posted by   Martijn Grooten on   Jan 16, 2018

Cryptocurrencies have attracted the attention of cybercriminals for many years: as a relatively anonymous payment channel, as a target of their digital theft, and as a way to turn (temporarily) compromised systems into money-generating machines. Given the recent increases in the value of many such cryptocurrencies, it is not surprising to see them being promoted in a new incarnation of the old-fashioned pump-and-dump spam.

Having been alerted by a post on Conrad Longmore's Dynamoo blog, I looked at a large spam campaign that has been pushing 'Swisscoin', a lesser-known cryptocurrency and one with a rather dubious reputation.

I agree with Conrad that this has all the signs of a pump-and-dump campaign, where those behind it attempt to inflate the price of the currency in order to make a nice profit.

I found more than 35,000 emails from this campaign in our VBSpam test feeds, most of which were received through Abusix and Project Honey Pot. The large number suggests that it will have been a very large spam campaign, likely involving tens of millions of emails – which is not atypical of the Necurs botnet which delivered it. Last year, Necurs was behind another, more classic pump-and-dump spam campaign.

necursswisscoin.png

Necurs hasn't added any new infections for many years and its behaviour is in many ways reminiscent of the spam campaigns of the past: it sends emails from compromised home PCs that are running older and long-unpatched operating systems, makes no effort to bypass spam filters, and focuses on quantity rather than quality.

Indeed, despite there not being a tangible payload inside the email, such as a URL or an attachment, we found that all but a small number of emails in the campaign were blocked by every single email security solution, with several solutions blocking all of the more than 35,000 emails.

For those behind the campaign, the few emails that trickle through may be sufficient to make a decent profit – and if they're very lucky, some poorly programmed trading algorithms may make purchase decisions based on the mentions in the spam. But for the Internet as a whole, campaigns like this are largely just background noise.

twitter.png
fb.png
linkedin.png
hackernews.png
reddit.png

 

Latest posts:

Nominations opened for sixth Péter Szőr Award

Virus Bulletin is seeking nominations for the sixth annual Péter Szőr Award.

Haroon Meer and Adrian Sanabria to deliver VB2019 closing keynote

New additions to the VB2019 conference programme include a closing keynote address from Thinkst duo Haroon Meer and Adrian Sanabria and a talk on attacks against payment systems.

Free VB2019 tickets for students

Virus Bulletin is excited to announce that, thanks to generous sponsorship from Google Android, we are able to offer 20 free tickets to students who want to attend VB2019.

VB2018 paper: Lazarus Group: a mahjong game played with different sets of tiles

The Lazarus Group, generally linked to the North Korean government, is one of the most notorious threat groups seen in recent years. At VB2018 ESET researchers Peter Kálnai and Michal Poslušný presented a paper looking at the group's various…

Book your VB2019 ticket now for a chance to win a ticket for BSides London

Virus Bulletin is proud to sponsor this year's BSides London conference, which will take place next week, and we have a number of tickets to give away.

We have placed cookies on your device in order to improve the functionality of this site, as outlined in our cookies policy. However, you may delete and block all cookies from this site and your use of the site will be unaffected. By continuing to browse this site, you are agreeing to Virus Bulletin's use of data as outlined in our privacy policy.