Symantec shares a security alert on a massive spam campaign in Brazil that centers around the Zika virus concerns.  Malware authors often sensationalize around major news events as bait to infect home or corporate users. Users should always go to mainstream news sites to verify these claims, rather than clicking on a potentially malicious link.

On February 1, 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) in response to the outbreak of the Zika virus and its associated birth defects in the Americas. Since this declaration, Symantec Security Response has observed a malicious spam campaign seeking to capitalize on the global interest in what the director of the WHO calls an “extraordinary event.”

Brazil: Curious health advice on Zika virus — The country most notably affected by cases involving the Zika virus is Brazil, so it comes as no surprise that one of the first cases involving Zika-related malicious spam would focus on Brazilian citizens. 

The malicious spam email claims to be from Saúde Curiosa (Curious Health), a health and wellness website in Brazil. The subject of the email says, “ZIKA VIRUS! ISSO MESMO, MATANDO COM ÁGUA!” which translates to: “Zika Virus! That’s Right, killing it with water!” The email itself uses imagery and text taken from a real article on Saúde Curiosa, but includes buttons and attachments to try to capture the recipient’s attention, such as “Eliminating Mosquito! Click Here!” and “Instructions To Follow! Download!” as well as a file attachment.

The links behind these buttons lead to the URL shortening service Bitly, which redirects to the file hosting service Dropbox. Symantec products detect both the file hosted on Dropbox and the file attached to the email as JS.Downloader. Once a user is infected with JS.Downloader, it will attempt to download additional malware onto the compromised computer.