Inbox Insider: Spammers disguised as legitimate brands

Spammers are sly. So it's no wonder they take advantage of popular brands' reputations to pull one over on the consumer. This past week saw two spam attacks in which e-mails appeared to be from legitimate brands.

The malicious e-mails – one pretending to be from American Airlines and another appearing to originate from The New York Times – were actually spam messages sent with malware attachments.

According to MessageLabs, an anti-spam company, one set of e-mails appeared to be from the “Times Reader” service. The messages displayed a promo for “Times Reader 2.0” software and solicited the reader to click on the attachment, which triggered viral malware.

The American Airlines spam e-mail pretended to come from the AAdvantage loyalty program, according to the airline. The malicious message offered consumers free miles and coupons in exchange for booking a first-class or business-class ticket. The message asked recipients to click on links to a malware site.

Despite receiving an e-mail from a familiar brand, consumers should always be aware of the sender and check if links are really for the domains they claim to be from.

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