The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Spam Data Mine is showing that the war in Georgia is being used to evade spam filters.
The university detected a mass spam attack, collecting more than 500 emails in a 90-minute period, carrying a link to a fake BBC story that Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili is homosexual.
"Clicking on the headline or the image, which is really being loaded from the BBC web site, will take email readers to a virus-laden web page," said Gary Warner, director of computer forensics research at UAB.
"The danger is that almost no antivirus products detected this virus when it began to be distributed this morning. Only four of 36 antivirus products knew that this was a suspicious file in our tests this morning."
Spamming on current news topics is not new, but the rate at which the attacks is foxing anti spam filters is worrying.
Several of the servers sending out the spam are from within Russia, according to Warner, but this was unlikely to be a government organised attack despite the use of state servers.
"Several of the computers being used to send the new spam campaign are in Russia, including at least one computer owned by the Federal Agency of Education," he said.
"These spam messages serve a dual purpose: a propaganda attack against Georgia, and the adding of compromised hosts to botnets controlled by pro-Russian individuals."
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