Blackhole malware attack spread via ‘Your photos’ email

Graham Cluley
Graham Cluley
@[email protected]

Blackhole photo. Image from ShutterstockA malware attack has been spammed out widely via email to internet users, posing as a message about photos.

In the attack, cybercriminals attempt to trick unsuspecting users into opening an attached file in their browser, redirecting them to a webpage hosted on a Russian website that takes advantage of the Blackhole exploit kit.

The notorious Blackhole exploit kit then attempts to infect visiting computers through a wide number of vulnerabilities.

Here’s a typical message that has been spammed out – in this case, pretending to come from a LinkedIn user:

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Malicious email

Subject: Your Photos

Message body:
I have attached your photos to the mail (Open with Internet Explorer)

The attached file has a name of Image_DIG[random number].htm. If you make the mistake of opening the file attachment in your web browser you will see a “please wait” message:

Please wait a moment. You will be forwarded..

Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox compatible only


Sophos detects this HTML file proactively as Mal/JSRedir-M. What isn’t obvious to most computer users is that behind-the-scenes obfuscated JavaScript code is redirecting the user’s browser to a Blackhole exploit site.

Obfuscated JavaScript code

More and more of the attacks that the folks at SophosLabs are intercepting involve the Blackhole exploit kit, underlining the importance of keeping your computer’s anti-virus software and software patches up-to-date as well as learning to exercise caution about opening unsolicited attachments or clicking on unknown links.

Learn more: Exploring the Blackhole exploit kit

Black hole illustration image from Shutterstock.

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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