Security Bytes

Jul 3 2007   6:55AM GMT

Attackers target top execs

Leigha Leigha Cardwell Profile: Leigha

According to new intelligence from MessageLabs, it’s not always good to be the king — or the king’s family, for that matter.

The security company says it has discovered “highly targeted” C-level and senior management email attacks in larger volumes than it has seen before.

“On June 26, MessageLabs intercepted more than 500 individual email attacks targeted toward individuals in senior management positions within organizations around the world,” the company said in a press release. “The attack was so precisely addressed that the name and job title of the victim was included within the subject line of the email. An analysis of the positions targeted reveals that chief investment officers accounted for 30% of the attacks, 11% were CEOs, CIOs accounted for almost 7% and 6% were CFOs. Other titles among the top-10 targets, and accounting for almost 50% of the attacks, included directors of research, directors of development and company presidents.”

Malicious emails come with a Microsoft Word document attached. The document contains embedded executable code. When opened, a Trojan horse takes hold on the victim’s machine.

“MessageLabs has also recently intercepted emails where the recipients of the attack email are related or connected to the actual intended target, for example a spouse or dependent of a CEO,” the company said. “The intent is to compromise the family computer and indirectly gain access to confidential correspondence and intellectual property relating to the target.”

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