Spammers jump on the Windows 7 bandwagon

Online pirates try to find a niche and fool it with Windows 7 bait

So I was pretty happy this week because I could get back to my normal job of reviewing products other than Windows 7, which has taken up far too much of my time lately. The first thing I did was to check my e-mail, which had been neglected for the past couple weeks while I worked on GCN’s W7 review, and my follow-up Impressions blog post trying to put a little humor into all the controversy I inadvertently caused.

So what did I find when I looked at my mailbox? Lots of spam about Windows 7.

It seems that spammers are nothing if not adaptable. Back in April it was all about notices from the IRS saying that, gasp, I had overpaid them. And out of the goodness of their hearts they had found this out and were ready to send me a check for the overdraft. But nobody is paying their taxes at the moment, so that one is a little out of date until next year.

Of course there are the standard “someone with a similar name as you has died” and “girls say: size does matter” mixed in with the classic “I am a Nigerian prince kicked out of my home country with nothing but the shirt on my back and this sack of $8M US currency.” I think the spammers send those out just to keep their servers working these days.

But the newest spam seems to be centered on Windows 7 and looks suspiciously formatted like an e-mail from Microsoft — you know, those updates you do actually get from time to time. These new spam e-mails warn that there is a serious problem with my recent upgrade to Windows 7. There are two possible actions to take, according to which version of this new spam you get. Lucky me, I have both.

The first tells you to open an attachment which has the patch to fix my security problems. Now I knew that was false. When has a Microsoft patch ever had a 100K file size?

The second recommends that you click on a link that supposedly sends you to www.microsoft.com but is actually HTML code disguised to send you to a site in Eastern Europe. No idea what awaits there, but it can’t be good.

It goes without saying that Windows 7 is perfectly capable of updating itself with little or no user intervention, just like every other Microsoft OS going back to Windows 98. So nice try, spammers. Points to you for spotting a trend, but no thanks.

And my ultimate defense against succumbing to Windows 7-related spam? I’m still running Windows XP.

About the Author

John Breeden II is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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