Spammers taking advantage of holidays – Symantec report

30 Jan 2012

Spammers are leveraging holidays and major events to make their emails more appealing, findings in the January Symantec Intelligence Report suggest.

Symantec Intelligence has seen more than 10,000 unique domain names compromised with a redirect script written in PHP that contains a reference to the new year in the file name. These redirect scripts were hosted on compromised websites and links to these were included in spam emails.

To further entice recipients to open their messages, spammers used additional social engineering techniques by including parameters in the URL to suggest the email is coming from a social networking site.

Symantec Intelligence expects to see spammers leverage other upcoming “calendar events”, as well, such as the upcoming Valentine’s Day on 14 February.

“We also expect to see plenty of spam and malware taking advantage of some of the major upcoming sporting events this year. We are already seeing references to the Summer Olympics in London as part of 419, or advance fee fraud messages,” said Paul Wood, senior intelligence analyst, Symantec.

“By relating their mails to widely-celebrated holidays and current events with global interest, spammers and malware authors can (at first glance at least) make their messages more interesting, and increase the chance of recipients visiting spam websites or becoming infected,” Wood said.

Internet users are reminded exercise caution when it comes to clicking on unfamiliar links or links coming from unfamiliar sources.