The percentage of spam in email traffic was down 4.5 percentage points from September and averaged 68 per cent - the lowest level it has been all year, according to data from Kaspersky Lab. The danger posed by spam, however, remained high with malicious files found in 3.25 per cent of all emails, a mere 0.15 percentage points less compared to the previous month.
The amount of phishing attacks on social networking sites decreased (-10.23 percentage points) in October, which meant this category fell from first place to fourth, behind even the Search engines category. After the summer lull, October saw considerable growth in the number of attacks on financial organisations (+2.85 percentage points) and online stores and e-auctions (+5.42 percentage points). If successful, these attacks provide fraudsters with access to users’ online banking and e-payment accounts enabling them to steal their money. Users should be especially careful when making purchases online in the run-up to the winter holidays.
Geographical distribution of spam sources
As in the previous month, China (30.7 per cent) and the USA (27.3 per cent) were the most active spam distributors in October. When it comes to countries sending spam specifically to users in Europe, China’s share is even higher (53.3 per cent), up 11.8 percentage points from September’s figure. The USA came second here too, with 13.4 per cent (+2.7 percentage points) of all distributed spam. Italy increased its contribution of European spam flows by 3.9 percentage points compared to September, moving the country up to third place. At the same time the share of spam emanating from India declined considerably in European countries (-6 percentage points).
Hot topics in October
Early autumn saw the world’s attention focused on the most important political event in the USA – the presidential election. At the height of electioneering, spam campaigns asked users to express their opinion about who would become the next president of the United States in return for a Visa gift card worth $250.
Halloween, widely celebrated in Europe and the USA, didn’t escape the attentions of the spammers this year either. Emails in English offered lots of holiday-related goodies – designer bags, door mats, photo frames and fluorescent T-shirts.
October is also the month when spammers usually start reminding everyone about the upcoming holiday season. Kaspersky Lab registered numerous Christmas and New Year-related mailings offering a variety of candies, souvenirs, tickets for festive season excursions and lots more.
Darya Gudkova, Head of Content Analysis & Research at Kaspersky Lab comments; “In October the percentage of spam may have decreased, but it didn’t become any less dangerous: we saw a lot of malicious and phishing emails targeting users’ money. This will probably continue in the run-up to the Christmas and New Year holidays. Users should be especially watchful when making e-payments and entering confidential data on the Internet. Do not click links in spam emails and do not open attachments from unknown senders. Apply software updates as soon as they appear.”
To address these issues Kaspersky Lab’s flagship consumer product Kaspersky Internet Security 2013 includes new Safe Money technology that provides users with complete protection for their online purchases and online banking transactions.