Feeds

Look out spam, here comes spim

Buddy, can you spare a dime for some penis growth pills?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

After nearly ruining the usefulness of email with billions of spams, unscrupulous marketers are now turning their attention to instant messaging (IM).

In recent weeks, several reports have been released detailing the emergence of spim, or spam-laden instant messages. The numbers vary, but one thing is clear, spim is making inroads and it won't be long before it hits millions of IM windows worldwide.

One report from the Radicati Group says that the number of spim messages is set to almost triple from 400 million instant messages in 2003 to about 1.2 billion instant messages by year-end 2004.

"While this may not seem like a big number compared to the projected 34.8 billion spam email messages at the end of 2004, the invasion of spim is still greatly unwanted and proof yet again of spammers being far from defeated," the firm claimed.

Other research, from companies like the Yankee Group and Ferris Research, have also made claims about the veracity of spim, with the latter saying that some 500 million spims were sent in 2003. Those figures, added to the astronomical growth of business IM - from 10 million users in 2002 to 182 million in 2007, according to Ferris - the potential damage spimming could present becomes enormous.

The fact is, spim is not entirely new and long-time IM providers like AOL have been fighting the problem since IM was first made available. But whereas early IM fraudsters often sought to steal AOL account details, today's version is increasingly interested in selling goods and services, with some 70 per cent of spim messages pointing to pornographic websites. Around 12 per cent involve "get rich" schemes; product sales account for nine per cent; and loans or finance messages are at five per cent, according to Radicati.

Still, most analysts have admitted that the spim problem may never grow to be as big a problem as emailed spam. But the intrusiveness of spim - with messages popping up on screen - makes the format somehow more insidious.

The use of a "buddy list" that prevents strangers from sending spims is a common and generally effective way to block unwanted messages. But if the buddy list is off, watch out. According to a recent New Scientist report, some would-be spimmers have developed malicious code that if activated on a victim's PC can allow the spimmer to impersonate that victim, spimming all of the user's "buddies."

Other spimming tools include chatroom bots that pose as humans, persuading others to add them to their buddy list, thus exposing the victim to spim.

© ENN

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
SMASH the Bash bug! Red Hat, Apple scramble for patch batches
'Applying multiple security updates is extremely difficult'
Oracle SHELLSHOCKER - data titan lists unpatchables
Database kingpin lists 32 products that can't be patched (yet) as GNU fixes second vuln
Who.is does the Harlem Shake
Blame it on LOLing XSS terroristas
Researchers tell black hats: 'YOU'RE SOOO PREDICTABLE'
Want to register that domain? We're way ahead of you.
Stunned by Shellshock Bash bug? Patch all you can – or be punished
UK data watchdog rolls up its sleeves, polishes truncheon
Desperate VXers enslave FREEZERS in DDoS bot
Updated Spike malware targets Asia
Ello? ello? ello?: Facebook challenger in DDoS KNOCKOUT
Gets back up again after half an hour though
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.