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News

Malicious E-mail Payloads Increase in July

Kaspersky Lab UK : 24 August, 2012  (Technical Article)
Despite the continuing fall in the rates of spam in e-mail inboxes, Kaspersky Lab notes a large increase in the amount of malicious software that is contained in attachments in these e-mails
Malicious E-mail Payloads Increase in July

Against a continuing backdrop of falling spam levels, Kaspersky Lab noted a 50 per cent rise in the number of emails containing malicious files. Such emails accounted for 4.4 per cent of all mail traffic last month. Meanwhile, the total share of spam fell by 0.1 percentage points and averaged 71.8 per cent throughout July.

The economic crisis was one of the main themes running through July’s spam. The majority of offers registered in the personal finance category were adverts for seminars on coping with the crisis, as well as goods at ‘anti-crisis prices’. Spanish spam also saw the appearance of messages promoting investments in real estate as a way of safeguarding money from the vagaries of the economic downturn. Scammers continued to exploit the difficult financial situation – offers of quick loans were registered in just about every European language.

In the second half of July, the Muslim world began observing the holy month of Ramadan. This usually coincides with a multitude of related links flooding email traffic. Muslim restaurants were responsible for spreading most of the adverts this year, inviting customers to visit them after evening prayers. There were also messages offering various Muslim goods, including a ‘mobile Koran’.

Spammers also continued to exploit the Olympic theme. At the height of the games in London, email traffic saw lots of fraudulent messages about lottery wins and offers to buy tickets for Olympic events.

The geographical distribution of spam traffic did not undergo any significant changes in July. Asian countries continued to account for most of the spam spread in Europe, with 62 per cent of European spam originating in Asia. Almost a quarter of the spam distributed in the US also came from Asian countries.

“Spam is becoming more and more dangerous. The proportion of malicious attachments in email traffic increased one and a half times last month. In particular, there is increasing use of malware that can infect a computer as a result of an email simply being opened. On top of the 4.4 per cent of email traffic containing malicious attachments there is also spam that contains malicious links and fraudulent messages,” warns Maria Namestnikova, Senior Spam Analyst at Kaspersky Lab. “August looks like it could be the peak month for dangerous spam. In the final summer month last year the share of malicious attachments almost reached 6 per cent. Everything points to a repeat of that spike in malicious code this August.”

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