IRS Email Scam Devastating: Targets Users, Businesses

Dennis Faas's picture

Don't Fall Prey to the IRS Email Scam! Download our Top 10 PC Security Essentials Tech Report at the end of this article, or click to here to visit our Top 10 Tech Reports self-serve kiosk, now!

Playing on the natural reservations people have about tax collectors, the latest scareware offering from hackers is not only devious and misleading, but is now being recognized as the single most virus-based spam delivered in the world.

Hackers often reinvent themselves when seeking new and effective tactics in the hopes of getting more people to download malware and other forms of computer infections.

"Notice of Underreported Income"

The latest scareware scheme assumes the voice of the IRS, with an infected message carrying the subject line "Notice of Underreported Income." While most users know better than to open an unsolicited email, many fell victim to the all-too-enticing file attachment labeled "view tax statement."

The result of course sent unsuspecting users to an infected, malicious web site.

Zeus Trojan Variant

Researchers have found that the malware is a variant of the difficult-to-detect Zeus Trojan, designed for identification and financial theft, leaving behind a trail of dried-up bank accounts in its wake. The incentive for hackers: more than one million dollars each day from the bank accounts of victims worldwide. (Source:

Even worse is the fact that many small businesses have fallen trap to the scam -- losing as much as hundreds of thousands of dollars in one fell swoop -- and banks are holding these companies liable of their own wrong-doing. (Source:

11 Million Emails Sent to 2 Million Machines

Another reason that this particular malware is so effective: it's being sent out to the same computers on a continual basis. Anti-spam vendor Cloudmark said that 11 million malware-driven messages had been sent to their 2 million desktop computers since the scareware was first spotted on September 9th, 2009. (Source:

The real IRS is warning users to not open any attachments or links that claim to be from tax-collecting agencies. Failure to heed this warning could result in funds -- and not just the amount owed to the government.

Protecting Yourself from Zeus Malware

You can protect yourself against malware such as this by installing the latest security patches on your computer, by regularly scanning for malware, and by using a firewall. For further, detailed recommendations please download our Top 10 PC Security Essentials Tech Report from our self-serve kiosk.

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