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    TrandLabs engineers recently discovered that cybercriminals now use shortened URLs to spam malware via instant-messaging (IM) applications like Yahoo! Instant Messenger and MSN. As we all know, URL-shortening services are used to compress long and unreadable URLs into short, bite-sized ones. Short URLs are more portable and are now preferred over the (normally long) actual URLs when one wishes to share news within networks using their own websites, blogs, Tweets, and other social media tools.

    The bad guys seem to have changed their strategy. We have gotten used to seeing malicious URLs like http://{BLOCKED}, http://www.{BLOCKED}, and http://www.{BLOCKED} in instant messages. Now, we see a slew of instant messages containing shortened URLs like http://{BLOCKED}.com/pict04042010jpg and http://{BLOCKED}.com/va98d.

    Shortening URLs may mean two things. First, this makes it harder for antivirus companies to block malicious URLs, as it would take them longer to get the landing link. Second, URL-shortening services can be used by cybercriminals to trick users into clicking suspicious links.

    Malware that spread via IM applications based their messages on the OS a computer uses. Cybercriminals have also been known to use shortened URLs for spamming purposes as shown in the following screenshots.

    Click for larger view Click for larger view

    Clicking the shortened URLs in the sample instant messages lead to the download of {BLOCKED}082010-jpg-www-facebook-com.scr detected as WORM_BUZUS.AG, which propagates via physical/removable/floppy drives and peer-to-peer (P2P) networks by spoofing the names of some popular applications, games, and movies. It is also capable of launching a denial-of-service (DoS) attack using SYN floods.

    Trend Micro™ Smart Protection Network™ protects users from this kind of threat by blocking access to all related malicious URLs and preventing the download and execution of the malicious file.

    Update as of April 12, 2010, 3:00 p.m. (GMT +8:00):

    The links were also found to download a new KOOBFACE variant detected as WORM_KOOBFACE.ZD.

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