Spammers hide behind legit web names

15 Apr 2010

Between five and 10pc of all spam circulating in the first quarter of 2010 appeared to originate from Gmail accounts, says internet security firm Commtouch as it released its Internet Threats Trend Report for the quarter.

Commtouch found that the familiar layout and style of a Gmail message, as well as those of PayPal and Facebook, are often used by spammers and phishers as standard templates to dupe recipients into replying to spam or phishing attempts.

One spam attack this year, reports Commtouch, utilised the CNN site as a halfway point en-route to a work-at-home scam, thereby giving the scam legitimacy.

“They are always testing new techniques to lure their victims, from using familiar formats and domains to creating entirely new ways to entice action.”

“Spammers and cyber criminals use experimentation to reach their goals,” said Asaf Greiner, Commtouch vice-president, products.

And spam levels are still a huge proportion of all email traffic: it accounted for 83pc of all emails sent and received in the first quarter of 2010, peaking at almost 92pc near the end of March from 75pc at the beginning of the year.

The most popular kind of spam is still pharmacy-related, accounting for 81pc of all spam emails and interestingly enough, the second most-popular topic is replicas, which take up 5.4pc of the spam traffic.

Although business was once the most common website category to be infected with malware this has now crossed over to pornography, while sites falling into ‘sex education’ or gaming categories seem to be the most targeted for hidden phishing pages.

By Marie Boran