I was reading a technical bulletin recently by Kaspersky Lab Expert, Darya Gudkova. The topic was the latest spam trends. Although we like to think we would never be fooled by any of the spammers’ tricks, remaining alert to their current strategies can provide that potent ounce of prevention. Gudkova’s report offers that, and much more. Here are some of her key observations:
1—Top Nations. Spam continues to get around the world, but certain nations earn the top spots. When spam is sourced by nation, the top four countries are China (23.1%), US (16.8%), South Korea (12.6%), and Taiwan (5.6%). The nations enjoying the largest onslaught of all that spam are US (12.0%), Russia (11.9%), Germany (9.3%), and India (5.6%).
2—Best Bang For The Buck. Although spammers are satisfied when one customer clicks through on an ad, they are thrilled when something even better happens. That “something better” is the installation of spam software onto the host PC. An infected PC is worth much more than a single product purchase. An infected PC provides an additional soldier in the botnet army. Therefore, a variety of social engineering tactics is used to convince you and me to install the spammers’ malicious software without realizing we are doing it.
3—Auto-Reply Disguises. Spammers are making a major push with emails that are disguised as corporate-account auto-replies. These include supposed delivery failure notifications and messages about the arrival of an important fax or email. When the recipient cooperates with whatever steps those emails cite, malware installation occurs.
4—Big-Name Impersonators. It comes as no surprise, but spammers continue to impersonate some of the most popular companies today. Even Walmart joins the list as one of many stores the spammers have adopted to manipulate recipient behavior.
5—E-Card Impersonators. The next time you receive a holiday or birthday e-card, be suspicious. Unfortunately, many viruses are being spread by malicious e-cards made to appear they are coming from legitimate friends and family via Hallmark. In fact, they are just another trick of the spammers.
6—Random Text Tricks. This is an old one, but it is still being used. The spammer simply inserts code into what otherwise appears to be a legitimate coupon or retail advertisement. Sometimes the additional code simply appears at the bottom of the email and other times it is set to a white font so that it is invisible to the recipient.
Gudkova’s report reminds us we must be constantly vigilant with our email. During the second quarter of 2013, spam comprised 70.7% of all email traffic. Our spam filters and security software will catch a lot of that, but never assume they will catch it all.