Spam drops in 2013, says security software firm
According to a study by international computer security software company Kaspersky, there was fewer number of spam messages in emails in 2013 compared to previous years.
“The percentage of spam in total email traffic decreased by 2.5 percentage points in comparison with the previous year and came to 69.6 percent,” Kaspersky said in its security bulletin posted on its computer security website securelist.com in January 2014.
“For the first time in many years the average annual spam percentage is less than 70 percent,” it said. Also the amount of spam messages has decreased by 10.7 percent over the last three years.
China and the United States were both seen as the top sources of worldwide spam email with 23 percent from China and 18 percent from the US.
“The amount of spam advertising legitimate goods and services is gradually decreasing. Advertisers increasingly prefer legitimate advertising to spam: more varied types of online advertising are becoming available, and these generate higher response rates at lower costs than spam can offer,” Kasperskysaid.
More malicious emails
Kaspersky however said that it detected more fake messages containing viruses or malicious software (malware) that can steal confidential information from the user.
“Fake confirmations of hotel or airplane ticket reservations have become a common part of spam; we saw such messages in spam traffic throughout the year. Instead of booking confirmations, files attached to such messages include malware,” it said.
Certain spam messages were also found to be impersonating anti-virus companies urging the recipient to download a file that supposedly updates their anti-virus program but actually contains a virus.
The fake file, known as a Trojan, “is designed to steal sensitive user data, particularly financial info,”Kasperksy said.
“The malware is capable of modifying the contents of bank websites loaded on the browser by embedding malicious scripts in order to obtain authentication data such as logins, passwords and security codes,” it said.
Shift to social media
Kaspersky noted the increase in attacks on Social Media through phishing, or stealing personal information by pretending to be a legitimate entity asking for certain information.
“In 2013, we saw phishers targeting more organizations that have no direct link to any financial data or service. There was a 7.6 percentage points increase in attacks using social networks,” it said.
“This can be partly explained by the fact that today’s email accounts often give access to a lot of content, including email, social networking, instant messaging, cloud storages and sometimes even a credit card,” Kaspersky said.
It noted that cybercriminals are constantly looking for different ways to steal information from people because they have become more aware of spam messages as security threats.
“Spam is changing and as traditional advertising declines we see far more fraud, malware and phishing. As a result, even experienced Internet users have to be more alert than ever to avoid stumbling into a cybercriminal’s trap,” Kaspersky said.
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