Feeds

And now for something completely different: Good news on spam

SEC beats up on pump-and-dump junk mail

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

In the ever-escalating world of cyber insecurity, it's rare to find good news. And yet the Security and Exchange Commission on Thursday did just that as it reviewed data showing stock-touting junk mail has dropped significantly since a tough anti-spam campaign kicked off in March.

Spam related to financial services comprised 21 per cent of all junk mail in the first six months of this year, down from 30 per cent during the last six months of 2006, according to a recent report from Symantec. The drop came even as the overall amount of spam rose, said Doug Bowers, senior director of anti-abuse engineering at Symantec. He added that financial junk mail was just 13 per cent in September.

Symantec attributes the drop to the SEC's antispam initiative, in which the agency temporarily suspends trading of penny stocks that are the subjects of pump-and-dump spam. Since March, the SEC has suspended securities trading in 42 companies, agency spokesman Bruce Karpati said. The move effectively pre-empts scammers' ability to profit from the phony emails.

"If the SEC stops trading on stocks being promoted through spam, then the price won't be driven up and spammers won't be able to make money,"

The SEC has also seen a decline in the number of items submitted to its online complaint center. More than one million complaints were made in the last half of 2006, compared with 727,313 for the first six months of this year. The agency fielded just 67,785 complaints in September, compared with 166,741 in February, the month before the anti-spam initiative was launched.

Just around the corner

Pump-and-dump emails typically tout "big news" just around the corner that is sure to drive up the stock price of an unknown company and encourages the recipient to buy while the price is still low. When the shares rise, the scammers sell previously bought stock at a profit.

A single spam campaign can cause stock prices and trading volume to spike, as was the case in mid-December, when mass email touting Apparel Manufacturing Associates (Ticker: APPM) caused the shares to soar from six cents to 45 cents in five days. The number of shares trading hands rose as much as 138-fold.

On Thursday, the SEC suspended trading for three companies that "haven't provided adequate and accurate information about themselves to the investing public". All three - Alliance Transcription Services (ATSS), Prime Petroleum Group (PPGU) and T.W. Christian (TWCI) have recently changed names and are being quoted under new ticker symbols, according to the SEC.

That makes them "susceptible to spam stock promotions because they have inadequately disclosed" key details including assets, business operations and current financial condition, according to the SEC. ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Regin: The super-spyware the security industry has been silent about
NSA fingered as likely source of complex malware family
Why did it take antivirus giants YEARS to drill into super-scary Regin? Symantec responds...
FYI this isn't just going to target Windows, Linux and OS X fans
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
'Regin': The 'New Stuxnet' spook-grade SOFTWARE WEAPON described
'A degree of technical competence rarely seen'
Astro-boffins start opening universe simulation data
Got a supercomputer? Want to simulate a universe? Here you go
You stupid BRICK! PCs running Avast AV can't handle Windows fixes
Fix issued, fingers pointed, forums in flames
prev story

Whitepapers

Driving business with continuous operational intelligence
Introducing an innovative approach offered by ExtraHop for producing continuous operational intelligence.
Why CIOs should rethink endpoint data protection in the age of mobility
Assessing trends in data protection, specifically with respect to mobile devices, BYOD, and remote employees.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Protecting against web application threats using SSL
SSL encryption can protect server‐to‐server communications, client devices, cloud resources, and other endpoints in order to help prevent the risk of data loss and losing customer trust.