Attackers are finding it more lucrative than ever to compromise e-mail marketing firms and exploit their resources to send out spam, often containing malware, according to a new report from Websense.
Attackers are reportedly targeting corporate webmail accounts and compromising them via phishing attacks on employees or by performing brute force attacks against weak passwords.
Attackers who are successful are able to leverage the e-mail marketing firms reputation to avoid detection by spam filters.
After gaining access to corporate accounts, attackers are exploiting the data they obtain to gain access to more systems. In some attacks, attackers register Internet domains similar to those of the victim organization, then e-mail contacts from the compromised account links to the newly registered webpages, which might serve up drive by download attacks or host downloadable files that contain malware.
The moral of the story, as Websense puts it, is that “a simple password may be all that is stopping your organization from sending your entire customer base a malicious email.”
The last year has brought high profile attacks on e-mail marketing firms. In the most notable attack, Epsilon, one of the largest email marketing firms in the world, was breached back in early April. This attack affected a slew of well-known companies and put the individuals on their various mailing lists at increased risk for phishing attacks. It remains unclear what the more broad affects of that attack might have been.
You can find the entire Websense report here.