Spam rate increases, growth expected to continue

Compared to the previous month, the amount of spam in email traffic increased by 1.2 per cent and averaged 80.8 per cent, according to Kaspersky Lab’s most recent monthly spam assessment.

In the second half of April, the average figure exceeded 83.6 per cent, suggesting that the share of unsolicited mail will continue to grow in the coming months.

In April, phishers seemed to lose interest in eBay with almost half as many of its users being attacked compared to the previous month. The subsequent drop of 4.2 per cent saw eBay fall two places to fourth in the top 10 rating of organizations most often targeted in phishing attacks.

PayPal was the undisputed leader of April’s rating. However, the intensity of the attacks on this e-pay system has eased off slightly, with a drop of 6 per cent compared to March. Facebook and Santander moved up to second and third respectively, though the number of attacks on these organizations only increased slightly compared with March.

As is usual at this time of year, spammers exploited Easter to attract more attention to their mass mailings. The sheer variety of Easter-themed spam messages was striking – from special weight loss offers to tablets for enhancing sexual potency.

Mother’s Day, which is celebrated in many countries in early May, was reflected in numerous adverts for flowers and gifts, while the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton was accompanied with offers for souvenirs that included exact replicas of Kate’s engagement ring.

Fortunately, the surge in malicious spam exploiting the “wedding of the year” theme that was predicted by antivirus vendors did not materialize.

India and Brazil remained the most popular sources of spam, accounting for 12.76 per cent and 7.15 per cent of the total volume of spam respectively. Russia continued its slide down the rating of most popular spam sources, being overtaken by South Korea whose contribution to global spam almost doubled compared with March’s figure.

Of particular interest in April was the appearance of Packed.Win32.Katusha.n and Trojan-Downloader.Win32.FraudLoad.hxv in the rating of malicious programs blocked by mail antivirus.

Both malicious programs are linked to fake AV: the former is used to pack them while the latter downloads them to users’ computers. In April, malicious files were found in 3.65 per cent of all emails, an increase of 0.43 per cent compared with the previous month.

The USA, Russia and the UK continued to occupy the top three places in the list of countries where malware was detected most frequently in mail traffic.

There was an increase of 1.93 per cent recorded in the USA, but the figure for Russia decreased by 2.9 per cent compared to March.

A special case was reported in the USA in April, whereby a New York resident was so angry with the amount of spam he was receiving in his mail box and on his social network pages that he decided to track down his tormentors.

Over the period of a week he found the locations of 23 people whom he suspected of distributing unsolicited correspondence, and in the evenings cut the Internet cables at their houses. On his eighth outing he was apprehended by the police and it was later disclosed that he was suffering from a mental disorder.

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