Avalanche gang uses Zeus malware to steal with IRS phishing scam
The Avalanche gang is using Zeus malware in an IRS phishing scam that tricks victims into getting infected from drive-by download sites. Image: Wikimedia Commons

An IRS phishing scam spawned by the infamous Avalanche cybergang has been spreading rapidly across the Internet. Targets of the IRS phishing scam receive a bogus IRS e-mail notifying them of errors in their return with a link that begins the rectification process. Taxpayers should know that the IRS does not communicate via e-mail, and clicking on the link will likely result in identity theft.

Delete any e-mail from the IRS immediately

Any e-mail from the IRS is bogus, and the IRS phishing scam currently circulating on the web is bad news for the gullible. Jane Bryant Quinn at CBS MoneyWatch said she received several of the e-mails last week. The e-mails bore the urgent subject line “LAST NOTICE,” and followed with “We decline your Federal tax payment.” or “The Identification Number used in the company identification field is not valid.” Quinn writes that the e-mails look like they come from the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System. The ETFPS is the website used for paying income taxes online.

Don’t unleash Zeus malware

The IRS phishing scam is a change in tactics for the Avalanche gang. Most people are on to the conventional, spam-based approach of phishing that tricks targets into entering personal information on bogus sites. Now Avalanche is using a nasty password-stealing malware called Zeus. Zeus doesn’t need a person’s cooperation to steal personal account information. If people click on the link in an IRS phishing scam e-mail, they are taken to a drive-by download site. Just landing on the page allows Zeus to infect a PC. It then collects user names and passwords for all the financial accounts the victim manages online and empties them. Zeus malware then spreads through the address book, pillaging along the way.

The Avalanche gang’s ill-gotten gains

The Avalanche gang got its name from the botnet it used to employ. According to ZDNet, the Avalanche gang has moved from conventional phishing to sending out billions of faked messages from tax authorities, false updates from social networking sites and other scams that lure unsuspecting people into the clutches of Zeus. According to the Anti-Phishing Working Group, Zeus has been used to steal hundreds of millions of dollars worldwide. No purported members of the Avalanche gang have been caught. The Avalanche gang has used Zeus to become the most successful bank robbers in history.


CBS MoneyWatch: http://moneywatch.bnet.com/investing/blog/make-money/new-irs-phishing-scam-a-criminal-gang-is-in-your-mailbox/577/

ZDNet: http://www.zdnet.co.uk/blogs/walsingham-10020628/avalanche-gang-the-ultimate-bank-robbers-10020856/

Gov Info Security: http://www.govinfosecurity.com/articles.php?art_id=3030

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