Gigabytes of government data stolen in fake e-card scam

Several gigbaytes of sensitive government data has been stolen from government and online security staff in a fake White House e-card scam, according to KrebsonSecurity.

An email circulated among a large number of public sector employees in the US on December 23 pretending to be a legitimate electronic greeting card from the government. The message read:

“As you and your families gather to celebrate the holidays, we wanted to take a moment to send you our greetings. Be sure that we’re profoundly grateful for your dedication to duty and wish you inspiration and success in fulfillment of our core mission.

Greeting card:


Merry Christmas!


Executive Office of the President of the United States

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20500

When users accepted it, however, it installed data-stealing malware on their computers, including a ZeuS trojan variant that focused on nabbing documents rather than financial details, suggesting that this attack was primarily interested in taking advantage of the Christmas season to steal government information.

A large number of people fell for the scam, including an official at the Moroccan government’s Ministry of Industry, Commerce and New Technologies, an employee of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a member of the Financial Action Task Force, and worst of all an intelligence analyst working for the Massachusetts State Police and a staff member of the National Science Foundation’s Office of Cyber Infrastructure, people who probably should have known better.

Information that was gathered in the 2GB data attack includes NSF technology and science grant applications, court-ordered mobile phone intercepts, classified national security documents, financial files, and other sensitive information.