Feeds

Mysterious drop in fraud and spam

Botnot?

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Spam levels suddenly dropped 30 per cent last week, according to managed security firm SoftScan, which attributes the let-up to a "broken" botnet.

SoftScan is still investigating the possible cause of the significant drop in junk mail volumes it's recording but reckons the most likely explanation is that hackers have temporarily lost control of a significant network of compromised machines. It seems unlikely that new computers at Christmas had much to do with affecting the number of compromised machines out there.

Alternatively the drop in spam might be a result of the recent earthquake in Asia disrupting spamming activity from that region, but this theory fails to explain a gradual (rather than more sudden) drop off in spam levels this month.

By contrast junk mail levels remained much as normal throughout December including the period around the 26 December earthquakes off Taiwan. Nine in ten emails processed by Softscan last month (89.4 per cent) were identified as junk mail. Only one in 200 emails (0.5 per cent) scanned by the firm last month were infected by malware, despite the outbreak of a worm that posed as a seasonal "Happy New Year" greeting late in the month.

Meanwhile anti-fraud organisation Early Warning reports that fraud surprisingly fell last month, even though Christmas witnessed a rise in e-commerce sales. Christmas sales rose 40 per cent compared to last year while losses from fraud fell slightly. It reckons greater vigilance by merchants is behind the drop in losses.

"This is really an unexpected and encouraging first in internet fraud statistics. As e-commerce goes on rising, we are used to corresponding increases in fraudsters' activities to capitalise on it," said Andrew Goodwill, managing director of Early Warning. "As the number and value of sales has risen so sharply, fraud - as a proportion - is definitely down. The reason for this drop is I believe the increased awareness of internet merchants of the fraud risks they face and they have measures in place to detect the fraudulent attempts."

Goodwill said that he hoped the decrease in levels of fraud would be sustained over upcoming months so that it proved more than just a "blip". "Merchants should not be complacent, and need to be looking for ways to keep this downward trend going for the year to come," he added. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
Chinese hackers spied on investigators of Flight MH370 - report
Classified data on flight's disappearance pinched
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Researchers camouflage haxxor traps with fake application traffic
Honeypots sweetened to resemble actual workloads, complete with 'secure' logins
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.