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2013 Press Release

Pope Francis’ blessings Become Internet Threat

Malicious emails take advantage of the Catholic Church’s Papal inauguration.

【Taipei, March 28, 2013】-- Trend Micro Incorporated (TYO: 4704; TSE: 4704) finds attacks taking advantage of the worldwide interest surrounding Pope Francis’ inauguration. By sending spam with disguised news links, the malicious emails look very much like real news alerts from official media websites. However, the disguised links eventually lead to malware.

Trend Micro noticed that this new spam campaign intrigues users into clicking on the links in the emails by using headlines related to Pope Francis and controversies surrounding the CathoPope Francis’ blessings Become Internet Threatlic Church. The content of these phishing emails are mostly identical to legitimate messages, for example, a news alert from CNN. However, the embedded links in these spam campaigns will lead users to sites that have been compromised by Blackhole Exploit Kit (BHEK), a tool that has been used to deliver wide variety of malware. “The Blackhole Exploit Kit (BHEK) spam runs have been going for some time now and it continues to have high activity,” Paul Oliveria, Security Focus Lead of Trend Labs, Trend Micro Incorporated, mentioned. “Users should be vigilant when receiving emails with links, in order to prevent harms from malware and phishing.”

BHEK delivers malware like Infostealers, Backdoors, Remote Access Trojans, and Rootkits, which could put users in grave danger of having their information stolen or getting their devices linked into botnets.

“Catholic or non-Catholic, Pope Benedict’s resignation and the new pope’s inauguration are news items that can pique anybody’s interest,” Paul said. Cybercriminals will always take their chances to fraud curious users. Users therefore need to enhanced protection and improved ability of spam mail detection.

With new technology developed by Trend Micro, which harnesses the capabilities of the Smart Protection Network, users can be protected from these attacks.


  • Detect phishing messages with big data analytics

    • This proactive solution takes various characteristics and develops a network mapping of groups and communities. Data such as email templates, IP addresses, and other attributes, are all among the characteristics used to map relationships and behaviors within the network.
  • Compare the behavior of messages to the intelligence developed by this solution

    • It determines whether a message could be phishing or malicious email based on its behaviors and attributes.

  • Identify these attacks when the phishing page is down or has changed

    • The ability to detect phishing attacks in the shortest amount of time possible is improved. The Smart Protection Network can now detect and block all related spammed messages and all associated URLs.

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