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E-mail spammers switch attack modes

Jared Heng | July 8, 2008
A global data security solutions provider has found significant changes in spam content and distribution mediums in the first half of 2008.

SINGAPORE, 7 July 2008 -- E-mail spammers switched attack modes in terms of heir content and distribution mediums in the first half of 2008 (H1 2008), according to a BitDefender survey.

The data security solutions provider notes that only two per cent of survey respondents reported stock spam incidents. In contrast, the figure was 25 per cent during the same period last year.

Rise of text-based spam

Text-based spam jumped from 20 per cent of respondents in the first half of 2007 (H1 2007), to 70 per cent in H1 2008, according to BitDefender.

Plain text continues to be the most prolific medium for e-mail spam distribution, especially due to its simplicity, reduced size and extreme versatility, says Andra Miloiu, BitDefender's spam analyst.

On the other hand, image spam, which usually deploys obfuscated content, dropped from 60 per cent in H1 2007, to just three per cent in H1 2008.

Other types of spam, like e-mails with PDF attachments and audio and video files, became less popular among spammers. Only about 15 per cent of respondents reported such incidences in the first half of this year.

The data security solutions provider notes that drugs, replica watches and phishing efforts were among the most advocated content through e-mail spam in H1 2008. These were followed by other content like pirated software, pornography, loans, hiring and employment, and tools for spreading Trojans.

Phishing attacks

According to BitDefender, phishing attacks mainly pretend to be from US financial organisations, with native English speakers in the US, UK and Canada under potential threat. However, it also notes that ongoing attacks have been reported in Spain, Italy and France.

Most illegitimate e-mails continue to exploit users' fears, such as threatening account blocking or expiration, or requesting updates on account details for security' reasons.

eBay, Paypal and Bank of America were the top three targets for counterfeit business identities in H1 2008, BitDefender says.


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