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

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
'Regin': The 'New Stuxnet' spook-grade SOFTWARE WEAPON described
'A degree of technical competence rarely seen'
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
You stupid BRICK! PCs running Avast AV can't handle Windows fixes
Fix issued, fingers pointed, forums in flames
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
HACKERS can DELETE SURVEILLANCE DVRS remotely – report
Hikvision devices wide open to hacking, claim securobods
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence
Download Choosing a Cloud Hosting Provider with Confidence to learn more about cloud computing - the new opportunities and new security challenges.