Feeds

Junk email volumes hit high

Spam volume increases despite swine flu

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Nine in ten emails in circulation are spam, according to the latest stats from email security services outfit MessageLabs.

The abuse of free hosted domains is playing a major role in clogging users' in-boxes with get-rich-quick scams and penis pill offers, MessageLabs reports. The security services arm of Symantec noted that junk mail levels reached 90.4 per cent during May. That figure includes email from "new and previously unknown bad sources" so the actual raw figure is probably even higher.

Most of the spam detected in May had little content beyond a subject line and valid hyperlink, sometimes linked to profiles on social networking websites. Often junk emails were sent through valid webmail hosting providers, rather than using spoofed addresses. Other rudimentary filter-evasion techniques include the use of Russian language characters in spam messages.

"As spam levels continue to increase, we are seeing existing attack techniques combine and morph into one," said Paul Wood, MessageLabs Intelligence senior analyst at Symantec. "In 2008 CAPTCHA-breaking, social networking spam and the use of webmail for spamming all became popular tactics. Today, the bad guys are using the three together as a triple threat to heighten the effectiveness of their spamming."

MessageLabs also looked into the time when recipients were sent the greatest volume of spam, a metric that varied with geography. US residents tended to see spam peak between 9 and 10 am local time, before dropping overnight, while Europeans are more likely to receive a steady stream of junk mail throughout their working day. Over in the Asia-Pacific region, by contrast, spam tends to come in overnight.

The study also looked at locations harbouring malicious content, finding that the majority (84.6 per cent) of web sites blocked for harbouring malware during May were well-established domains more than a year old. In May, 7.0 per cent of email-borne malware contained links to malicious sites.

"Spammers using better-known and thus more widely trusted web sites to host malware is reminiscent of the spammers who rely on well-known webmail and social networking environments to host spam content," Wood said. "The trustworthy older domains can be compromised through SQL injection attacks while newer sites are more likely to be flagged as suspicious – a temporary site set up with the sole purpose of distributing spam and malware – and thus faster to get shutdown."

MessageLabs complete report can be found here. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Ice cream headache as black hat hacks sack Dairy Queen
I scream, you scream, we all scream 'DATA BREACH'!
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
JLaw, Kate Upton exposed in celeb nude pics hack
100 women victimised as Apple iCloud accounts reportedly popped
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
Attack flogged through shiny-clicky social media buttons
66,000 users popped by malicious Flash fudging add-on
New Snowden leak: How NSA shared 850-billion-plus metadata records
'Federated search' spaffed info all over Five Eyes chums
Three quarters of South Korea popped in online gaming raids
Records used to plunder game items, sold off to low lifes
Oz fed police in PDF redaction SNAFU
Give us your metadata, we'll publish your data
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
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.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.