March 29, 2010

Spamming News

IF you have been offered cash or products just for forwarding an email or are bombarded with advertisements promoting items you have no intention of buying, you’ve been spammed.

Mostly an annoyance, spam — advertising material sent by email to people who have not asked for it — accounted for 85.1 per cent of all email traffic last year, according to a round-up of spam in 2009 by Kaspersky Labs, a developer of secure content management solutions. Of this percentage, 0.85 per cent contained malicious content, just 0.04 per cent less than in 2008. It is heartening to note that users have become more careful with money, and phishing scams became less profitable for their authors last year — phishing messages in email averaged a low 0.86 per cent last year.

The most common targets of phishing attacks were online payment system PayPal and online auction system eBay. Online denizens should still be on the alert for spam though, especially if they use social networking sites or blogs. If a community is not moderated or if the anonymous comment feature is not disabled, then the amount of spam received through these channels can be overwhelming. Email-based spammers are taking advantage of this situation.

Fake notifications and messages with malicious attachments that appear to be from social networks, and phishing attacks against their users are the bane of today’s Internet.

In 2009, these attacks mainly targeted Facebook and Twitter. Spammers have also started to make an effort to improve the quality of their advertisements to ensure that their messages bypass spam filters and are nice to look at. The main innovation in spam last year was the use of YouTube for video spam.

In October, several mailings were found with links to advertisements uploaded to YouTube.

At the end of the year, spammers sent out mass mailings with mp3 files attached.

It’s worth noting that these types of spam mailings pose no problems for spam filters. The biggest source of spam last year was the United States (16 per cent), although there was a clear migration of sources towards Asian and Latin American countries.

This can be explained by the fact that the number of computers and broadband Internet connections in these areas is steadily on the rise, but not all users in those countries are literate in Internet security.

As a result, their computers are easier to infect with malicious programmes and incorporate into a botnet — a collection of software agents, or robots, that run autonomously and automatically. “For the spam industry, 2010 will most probably be a less eventful year as the amount of spam in all email traffic will remain at approximately the same level it is now or increase slightly,” says Gun Suk Ling, Kaspersky Labs Asia Limited Southeast Asia regional managing director.

If anything, users of social networking sites should be more wary of the problem as the amount of spam on social networking sites will grow, and spammers will continue to perfect their old techniques while coming up with a few new ones.

Original title: Somebody's spamming you
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