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June 2nd, 2011

Phishing email: The YouTube impostor

In 2010, AVAST noticed that the majority of malware infections were occurring via infected websites, rather than from malicious email, which had previously been the main culprit.

But good criminals go where they are least expected.

A couple weeks ago I posted an example of a type of phishing email that I’ve since learned is called ‘vishing‘, as it uses voice (VoIP, telephone) as an agent in the scam process. (It reminds me of a public payphone I had to use in Mexico about 10 years ago, which billed me something around $80 for a five-minute call.) :)

Now, a story today in The Washington Post — “Google says hackers based in China accessed U.S. officials’ Gmail accounts” — details how Google got to play a bit of cybercop last week when they noticed “vast quantities of e-mail content” belonging to U.S. government officials and military personnel being accessed from Jinan, China. Allegedly, ‘phishing’ emails were the tool used for this security breach.

Which brings me to the title of this post, as a few days ago I received to my Gmail inbox (two spam filters missed it) what appeared to be a legitimate email from YouTube, stating that my “video has been approved” and providing a legitimate-looking link:

As I typically don’t click anything without first hovering to see where it actually goes, I immediately noticed that this one wasn’t actually going to, but instead to:

The pest control link then reroutes to a pharmaceutical company specializing in ED (erectile dysfunction) medications such as Viagra and Cialis. When they know the spam filters will weed out their direct (e)mail, they will use deception to get you there. And at the bottom of their page? Links to “Report spam” and their “Anti-spam policy.” ;-)

Considering the pharmaceutical store is a legitimate international company, I have to wonder if the management are even aware of the deceptive techniques being used to bring traffic to their site.

Categories: General Tags: , , , , ,
  • RejZoR

    I get bunch of these weekly. They all end up in Spam folder in GMail automatically…

  • Jason Mashak

    Yes, a lot of mine end up there, as well… but this one didn’t.

  • drale

    the legitimate store site is probably hacked too to download a virus to your computer

  • Fernando Gregoire

    As for phishing in Argentina the most usual channels are traditional phone calls, the phishing e-mails are more obvious because a big quantity of this messages are in languages other than Spanish or English.
    The Gmail filters are very good (I can’t say it for the filters of e-mail services of ISPs where there is a lot of spaming e-mail messages).

  • kyle j

    I need my computer to be checked for the virus I might have opened it please PM me my eamil is messing up even though I can get in… Tanks

  • HackToHell
  • daisy

    @kyle j
    did you have your computer checked for virus yet kyle j?

  • daisy

    hello kyle i am daisy. how is your computer doing. i contracted a bad virus on my laptop yesterday and it completely trashed my computer…it wouldn’t even boot up. so i had to call tech support for Toshiba. i had to reload my operating system that’s why i am here today and i proudly use avast internet security.they do have a free trial version.

  • daisy

    i just ran my first quick scan it did great. but one problem can you tell me why is it so slow to scan. i have the highest internet connection for my area which is 14.2. i don’t understand why the scan runs so slow. my computer just got reloaded and is a brandnew computer..there are no open programs that would slow down the speed progression of the software. it been running for 15 minutes and is only at 38 % i am use to the scans that scan completed within five minutes. can you please tell me if there is a setting somewhere that can speed up the scan…please be aware i don’t mean this comment to be a negative in any kind of way thanks daisy

  • daisy

    well i guess no one comes back to this page i would like to have my questions answered before i buy this product. while a full scan is running it slows my computer way down. i have more than enough memory. more than enough internet speed of connection. this product weighs down my computer and i would like it if someone could answer me…it takes 35 seconds for the web browser fire fox to come up…come on guys….out of billions of people on earth i can’t be the only one who monitors this page. i would like to understand why this full scan….just the full scan only runs for almost an hour. please someone let me know something…..thanks…

  • daisy

    ok so i am doing some thinking…yeah it is slow running…slows down my computer….but i realize it scans my computer thoroughly… i have a change of mind…. it is good it runs slow….cause it scans every single file….every corner and crevice. i am happy. i just have to take one hour out of my day to scan my computer. so i do think it is worth it. never had i had a program like this run slow. but never had i had a program like this to find anything and everything. so avast great work. thanks for make such a great software. lol it found a virus that avg anti-malware bites couldn’t find. wow….all you out there that think avast is running too slow….don’t worry about it…just donate an hour of your computer to this software. this is a must scan to appreciate. and when you do run the scan your mouth will drop to the floor. i had two computers i was working on for customers. i downloaded the free version onto one laptop after running a scan with avg and anti malware spyware bytes. they are suppose to be the best. on this laptop the avg and the malware bytes…found few. but when i uninstalled them both and installed avast…you wouldn’t believe the virus and spyware avast found twice as many as the other two. and on top of that the laptop is fully functional after one scan from avast….who has doubts in this software…find you another computer that you know has viruses on it and do the test yourself…yes time consuming….but you will love the results…

  • Jason Mashak

    A “full system scan” always takes longer than a “quick scan” or a scan of selected folders.

    Yes, several of us monitor this blog, but comment notifications are sent to each blog post’s author – in this case me, and I was already finished with my work day and home with my family when you initially wrote to us. Prague time is GMT+1:00.

    In the future, Daisy, should you have any tech-support-related questions, please visit our Support Center ( or our Forum ( and you may find your question already answered.

    Anyway, we’re glad avast! found all your viruses. There are other small things you can do to speed up your PC, as well, one being to defrag your hard drive:

  • daisy

    thank you so much for your reply…sometimes i need to make myself have more patience. i just want you to know i love this antivirus software. you all have done a great job. it is the only software company i trust. can you tell me if you might would have any other programs that would help me defrag my hard drive? i am worlds worse at clicking on things i shouldn’t and making changes to my computer without noticing what i am doing. then i try to backtrack where i been and try to undo the changes and i have to get my boyfriend to try to figure out what i did wrong. so far he was able to get my computer back on track. i wish i could be like him and just go here and there clicks things without the worry of messing something up. sorry so long. long story short…as mentioned above. please inform or send me a link, if you have a software that would help me with defrag my hard drive with maintenance and registery cleaner of some sort. i hope you can understand what i am asking….lol cause i am not sure if i am understanding what i am asking for. sometimes i feel so stupid.

  • Jason Mashak

    :) I wish I could help you with that, but I’m a writer for AVAST (work in the Marketing/PR dept.) and not a tech-support person. Our tech-support people answer questions in the Support Center (link above) and some of our even ‘geekier’ people here you can get help from on the avast! Forum (link above). All I can tell you is that you don’t need any special software to defrag – it’s part of your standard maintenance of Windows. Try Googling “how to defrag Windows” and then whichever version you are using (XP, 7, whatever).

  • Dennis

    I have just been hit by something much like, if not identical, to this”vishing”program. All of a sudden I see “Mail return” in my inbox from all of my customers, family, and friends. I was a nightmare. Many people were calling telling me that they keep getting these “pharmacy” offer emails from my business email address! Customers do not like viruses, Trojans, malware, etc. I use the free version of AVAST and wonder if upgrading would slow the repetition off this nightmare. This is the 4th time this year I have had my machine in the shop for the same reason, spyware removal!It is not the monetary cost of the malware removal but the time lost by my business. I have a server with multiple machines, but my laptop is my life. I have a small Engineering company that depends on my constant participation. Everything aside, why can’t we hunt these little SOB’s down and put them in the dirt mound of fire ants then pour honey on them! Not really, that is just anger talking. I just want to be confident that I can have a safe mailbox and address book. I must mention that I use Outlook for all my business email and protect this with AVAST, IObit Pro, Advanced System Care 4, Malwarebytes’ Anti Malware, CCleaner. I have enough protective software to cover my machine. Either I do not know how to set things up, I am doing something to invite issues, or I just do not know what the heck to do about protecting myself. I do not open suspicious looking mail that makes it through my filters, I scan all mail prior to opening, what more can I do?

  • Jason Mashak

    avast! Free Antivirus is meant for home users, and as we say on it is “the minimum protection anyone should have against viruses and spyware” – that said, a business, with a server and multiple end points, is undoubtedly a larger ‘target’ for crooks.

    Very soon, we’re launching new business versions (with central management for multiple end points) of our popular avast! Pro Antivirus and avast! Internet Security. These have additional precautions built-in for higher-risk users (such as SafeZone technology). You can see a comparison here: