Phishing campaign touts fake 'Heartbleed removal' tool

The program attached to the emails is actually a keylogger, according to Trend Micro

Trend Micro is warning of a phishing campaign touting a "Heartbleed removal" tool, a nonsensical product that is actually malicious software.

The scammers are hoping to trick people who vaguely associate the nickname "Heartbleed" with a computer problem that needs to be fixed.

Heartbleed in fact was a large problem, but not one for desktop computers. It was a vulnerability in older versions of OpenSSL, a crucial piece of open-source software that enables encrypted communications between a computer and a Web service, indicated by the padlock in most browsers.

The Heartbleed flaw was especially dangerous since OpenSSL is widely used in operating systems, routers and networking equipment. The flaw could allow an attacker to pull potentially sensitive data in 64K chunks from a server, including login credential and private SSL keys.

Fixing OpenSSL required applying a server-side patch. End users only needed to change their passwords on Web services that were affected.

The phishing emails seen by Trend Micro have an attachment that is supposedly a software tool that removes Heartbleed, wrote Trend Micro's Gary Davis, vice president for global consumer marketing. The tool is actually a keylogger, which records keystrokes and sends the content to the attackers.

The phishing emails are suspicious for other reasons, though, which may diminish their pool of potential victims.

Davis wrote the emails have a subject line "Looking for Investment Opportunities from Syria," a country that has seen civil unrest for several years. Further in the pitch is a warning that people should run the attached program to ensure they're not infected with the Heartbleed "virus," he wrote.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

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