Feeds

Spam volumes increase to pre-McColo takedown levels

Mega-D botnet spewing out junk mail torrent

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

Junk mail levels are back to 80-90 per cent of their volumes prior to the takedown of infamous junk mail-friendly ISP McColo in November 2008 last year.

Spam levels are up 4.9 percentage points since December 2008 to 74.6 percent, reaching levels close to those prior to the McColo takedown, according to an analysis by email and web filtering firm MessageLabs published on Monday.

It reports that the Mega-D (Ozdoc) botnet is making the largest single contribution to junk mail levels, sending more than 26m spam emails per minute. Meanwhile, the Cutwail (Pandex) remains the largest active botnet with more than 1m active IPs this month. MessageLabs is yet to see any junk mail from machines compromised by the Conficker worm.

In other spam-related news, security researchers at Trend Micro were surprised to discover that items of dating spam in a recent junk mail run were spoofed so that they appeared to come from the security heavyweight.

But spammers got things badly wrong in the the design of the spam run, which comes in the run-up to Valentine's Day. By tampering with the From field in the messages, junk mailer hoped to sneak their useless messages past spam filters.

However the hackers in this case erred badly, because the From and Reply-To addresser in junk mail messages are spoofed. As a result, "the spammers themselves aren’t getting the replies or even the bounces to the spammed messages they sent," writes Mary Ermitano, an anti-spam research engineer at Trend Micro. "This attack is apparently just a waste of resources for spammers."

The spam run seeks to promote websites while also seeking to validate email addresses for later, possibly more insidious, junk mail runs. The junk mail messages in this case are not in themselves pointed at malware and don't point to malware infected sites - at least not yet.

A full write up of the attack, more of which can be expected to surface on the run-up to Valentine's Day on 14 February, can be found here. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
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
Crooks fling banking Trojan at Japanese smut site fans
Wait - they're doing online banking with an unpatched Windows PC?
NIST told to grow a pair and kick NSA to the curb
Lrn2crypto, oversight panel tells US govt's algorithm bods
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.