Has Barack Obama refused to be president? No, it’s malware

Graham Cluley
Graham Cluley
@[email protected]

Has Barack Obama refused to be president? No, it's malware

As described by Richard Cohen on the SophosLabs blog, this weekend saw a major malicious spam campaign posing as news that Barack Obama was refusing to become President of the United States.

There are many versions of the email using different subject lines and linking to a variety of different websites. Subject lines have included “It is amazing!”, “What will be with our country?”, “Haven’t you heard latest news about our president-elect?”, “End-time for USA”, and “Who will be our president now?”. Here is one example of an email sent by the hackers:

Barack Obama malware email

Clicking on the link is, of course, not a good idea. You’ll be taken to a website which has done a good job of cloning the genuine Barack Obama website, but contains one extra news story in less-than-perfect English:

Barack Obama’s inauguration that was planned on 20th January 2009 is under the threat of failure. On the Eve of Inauguration Day President-elect Barack Obama made statement. He declared that he is definitely NOT ready for this position. Analysts say that Barack Obama has refused to be next president because he recognized inconsistency of his plan of stimulating USA economy

And hiding on the website is some malicious software – a version of the Waled malware – designed to infiltrate your Windows computer.

Fake Barack Obama webpage

As Barack Obama is scheduled to be officially inaugurated as US President tomorrow, even people who are sceptical about this “breaking news” might be tempted to click on the link out of curiousity.

Obama’s predecessors – including Bill Clinton, George W Bush and even Ronald Reagan – have all been the subject of viruses in the past, and Barack Obama has not just seen malware using his name for social engineering purposes during last year’s election campaign, but even his wife Michelle.

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My guess, however, is that during Barack Obama’s time as president we’ll see more malware using his name than any other president in history.

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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