The third quarter of 2013 saw further use of real-time malware campaigns and a dramatic increase in phishing sites, according to Commtouch.
The ever-growing exploitation of current news events continued in Q3. The time between the news event and the related malware attack has steadily decreased throughout the year and now averages only 22 hours. Real-time malware campaigns in Q3 used news of royal baby Prince George, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, and the Syria crisis.
The number of phishing sites increased dramatically during Q3 by almost 35%. PayPal phishing sites alone accounted for approximately 750 new phishing sites each day.
A small decrease of 5% could be seen in the number of malicious websites listed in Commtouch’s GlobalView URL database. Travel websites were the most popular website category for malware distributors, followed by transportation and business websites. Education, which was number one in Q2, fell to number six.
“The Q3 Trend Report highlights that the complexity of cybercriminal attacks is increasing,” said Lior Kohavi, CTO at Commtouch. “Their campaigns are usually targeting end users — to protect the users, Internet service providers, email hosters, and content providers must be aware of these trends and continually improve their tools to fight these cybercriminals.”
In the third quarter of 2013, spam levels continued to drop. The average daily amount of spam for the quarter was 69 billion messages compared to the second quarter’s 83 billion — a drop of approximately 17%. Although the quarterly level is the lowest in more than four years, the average per month had been increasing since June’s historic low of 63 billion messages per day until the drop in September. During Q3, spam represented 70% of all emails sent globally, dropping as low as 62% at the start of August.
The most popular spam topic was dieting with a share of 40.2% (in Q2 it took position three, with 10.8%). Stock spam moved from 7th position (4.7%) in Q2 to 2nd position (20%) — so called penny stock spam could be seen on a regular basis in the last quarter.
The average daily amount of malware found in emails remained almost unchanged compared to last quarter at nearly 2 billion emails per day. This average hides the steady increase from July to September which included outbreaks of double the daily average.
India remains the world’s top zombie hoster: During the third quarter of 2013, India stayed in first place with the most spam-sending bots — although their share dropped by 6% to 13.2%. Russia appeared to absorb most of this percentage and moved from 8th place into 2nd. New entries include Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, and Spain, while the United States, Serbia, and Mexico dropped out of the top 15.