Spam used to boost stock prices

Spam is no longer simply a tool for mass-mailing unsolicited advertising, it is now being used in some cases to drive up certain prices on the stock market. According to PandaLabs, there has been a series of mass-mailings containing stock market information, advising users to buy stocks in certain companies.

PandaLabs has analyzed one of these cases and found that stock prices in one of the companies mentioned increased significantly over a period of a few days -even rising 12 percent in one day-, thanks to this type of spam.

“This new use of spam would seem to be quite effective from what we have seen so far. There are two possible sources: either the companies themselves are trying to boost their stock value, or -and this would seem more likely-, individuals that have bought cheap stocks and are looking for a quick profit on selling them”, explains Luis Corrons, director of PandaLabs.

The typical model of this financial spam includes an image in which the user can read the information. Another characteristic is that the subject of the messages has nothing to do with the content. The aim of all this is to try to avoid anti-spam filtering systems.

“These attacks are interesting in the sense that they demonstrate how the Internet can manipulate real-world financial situations. Until now we have just seen a few cases, albeit with relatively successful results. It is not too far-fetched then, to imagine attacks of this nature in the future used not just for direct profit but also as a weapon against companies, similar to the way in which companies are blackmailed with threats to crash their IT systems, ” explains Corrons.