AOL Hack Drives Zombie Spam to Inboxes

Many early Internet users had AOL e-mail addresses at one time or another -- and some still have active accounts they rarely, if ever, use. Considering the rise of AOL-related zombie spam this week, it may be time to delete those old AOL e-mail accounts.

AOL on Monday admitted itEUs investigating a security incident that involved EUunauthorized accessEU to its networks and systems. In other words, the ISP was hacked. The company is working with forensic experts and federal authorities to investigate the incident and determine how cybercriminals were able to steal the personal information of its e-mail account holders.

EUThis information included AOL users' e-mail addresses, postal addresses, address book contact information, encrypted passwords and encrypted answers to security questions that we ask when a user resets his or her password, as well as certain employee information,EU the company said in a statement. EUWe believe that spammers have used this contact information to send spoofed emails that appeared to come from roughly 2 percent of our e-mail accounts.EU

WhoEUs Behind the Zombie Spam

We caught up with Andrew Conway, a research analyst at messaging protection firm Cloudmark, to get his take on the zombie spam fallout. He told us there are two or three different groups involved in monetizing the zombie spam. One group is known as Com Spammers.

EUThe Com Spammers currently have three forms of monetization -- diet pills, miracle skin cream, and a pernicious work from home scam that involves extracting larger and larger payments for training and services based on the promise of future riches,EU Conway said.

EUSimilarly, if you order the diet pills, you will find yourself signed up for a monthly purchase on your credit card, which is very hard to cancel. We estimate that the revenue generated by this group is millions of dollars a year. They...

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