PayPal spam leads to exploit kit
Clicking on links leads to Blackhole rather than phishing site.
Fake PayPal receipts were being spammed out this morning, with links leading to a version of the Blackhole exploit kit.
The emails look like typical PayPal confirmation emails and suggest that funds have been sent from the user's account. The supposed recipient of these funds varies between the emails, but they all share the surname 'Peterson'. Of course, the links in the email don't send the user to PayPal's website, but instead link to a landing page on a compromised website.
It may seem surprising that the criminals chose to send the user to an exploit kit, rather than to a phishing site. However, as many users are aware of phishing scams, even if they had clicked the link in the email, the domain name would be an obvious sign that something was not right. On the other hand, exploit kits silently infect the unprotected user which, via pay-per-install affiliate schemes, could generate money for those sending the spam.
Virus Bulletin has alerted the ISP that hosts the website running the exploit kit. At time of writing, the site is no longer accessible.
A technical paper on the Blackhole exploit kit, written by Sophos's Fraser Howard, can be found here.