Feeds

Mysterious drop in fraud and spam

Botnot?

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

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. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
NEW, SINISTER web tracking tech fingerprints your computer by making it draw
Have you on YouPorn lately, perhaps? White House website?
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
NUDE SNAPS AGENCY: NSA bods love 'showing off your saucy selfies'
Swapping other people's sexts is a fringe benefit, says Snowden
Own a Cisco modem or wireless gateway? It might be owned by someone else, too
Remote code exec in HTTP server hands kit to bad guys
British data cops: We need greater powers and more money
You want data butt kicking, we need bigger boots - ICO
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.