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AppRiver Report Examines Spam Trends In First Half of 2010

AppRiver : 05 July, 2010  (Technical Article)
Report concludes that spam is being increasingly used for malware distribution with 10% of spam messages now containing viruses
AppRiver has released its mid-year Threat and Spamscape report, a detailed summary and analysis of spam and malware trends traced between January and June 2010. During this timeframe, AppRiver quarantined more than 26 billion spam messages to protect its customer base of 45,000 corporations and six million mailboxes.

"Spam today is much more than just a nuisance, it is a vehicle for heavy malware distribution and other serious security threats," said Fred Touchette, senior security analyst at AppRiver. "For example, more than 1-in-10 junk messages contained a virus during the past six months, making malware distribution a serious cause for concern. In fact, AppRiver has quarantined more than 45 million virus messages in the last 30 days alone."

In a new video available on the AppRiver Website, Touchette and fellow AppRiver Security Analyst Troy Gill discuss highlights from the mid-year Threat and Spamscape report, including:

* Spammers hop on green bandwagon: Utilizing targeted spear phishing campaigns, hackers attacked more than 2,000 companies in an attempt to steal carbon credits and resell them for large profit.

"Hackers are after more than just your credit card numbers, they want your carbon credits too," said Gill. "With many countries now on board with the cap and trade system, scammers have found a lucrative opportunity to exploit the global quest to go green."

* Tragedy in Haiti spurs scams and malware: Spammers and malware authors used the devastating earthquake in Haiti and the volcanic eruption in Iceland in attempts to trick e-mail recipients and Web surfers.

* Tax time means malware time: It is not uncommon to see phishing attacks dressed up like e-mail from the Internal Revenue Service. It is also not uncommon to see these attacks rise in frequency around the month of April due to the US tax deadline date. This year was no exception.

* World Cup Woes: With the FIFA World Cup soccer action in full swing, so are the scams surrounding the events. AppRiver began to detect World Cup-themed spam as early as January 2010.

* Malware masquerades as lawsuit: In April, AppRiver's filters stopped a malware attack that piggybacked on an e-mail as an "official" legal document. The malware posed as a filed lawsuit against recipient companies. The fake legal document was a strong social engineering technique, which attempted to use a bit of fear in order to catch the victims off guard.

* Facebook users targeted over and over: Facebook was a very popular theme for phishing campaigns. The immense popularity of the online social network made these attacks much more effective.

* Spam Origins: 45 percent of all spam traffic originated from Europe during the last six-month period, while the US topped the list of spam-producing countries. The US regained its top spamming spot over the former highest spamming country, Brazil. During the past six months, AppRiver also saw a major upswing in spam from Ukraine.
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