Feeds

Mysterious drop in fraud and spam

Botnot?

High performance access to file storage

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. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
OpenSSL Heartbleed: Bloody nose for open-source bleeding hearts
Bloke behind the cockup says not enough people are helping crucial crypto project
Web data BLEEDOUT: Users to feel the pain as Heartbleed bug revealed
Vendors and ISPs have work to do updating firmware - if it's possible to fix this
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
Heartbleed exploit, inoculation, both released
File under 'this is going to hurt you more than it hurts me'
Experian subsidiary faces MEGA-PROBE for 'selling consumer data to fraudster'
US attorneys general roll up sleeves, snap on gloves
Bad PUPPY: Undead Windows XP deposits fresh scamware on lawn
Installing random interwebs shiz will bork your zombie box
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.