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Phishing plummets but spam on the increase

Symantec : 11 September, 2009  (Technical Article)
Whilst incidences of phishing fell dramatically during the august holiday season, spam is set to make a sharp increase during the months running up to Christmas according to Symantec
Phishing may be down, but internet users shouldn't rest on their laurels, says Symantec, as the latest research shows spam is rising as we move towards the Christmas holiday season.

Symantec's September State of Phishing report has revealed a 45 percent reduction in phishing attacks in August from July. However, this is likely to be a short term lull, reflecting the end of a particular toolkit attack on social networking sites. Symantec also anticipates an increase in holiday spam campaigns as spammers start to leverage the Halloween and Christmas holidays globally.

Other key findings from the report, which can be read here, show:

* Financial and e-commerce brands continue to top the most targeted list, attracting 19.7 percent and 29.3 percent of the attacks respectively

* An increase in attacks using a popular email client application. The phishing scam messages lure the intended victims to re-configure their email client application by a link provided in the email

* An 11 percent rise in non-English phishing site attacks, with phishing attacks in French, Italian and Chinese languages found to be higher in August. French language attacks continued to be in the top position

Whilst phishing is down, Symantec's State of Spam report has shown significant increases in holiday focused spam attacks as spammers took advantage of the run up to Labour Day in the US. The report also reveals a marked rise in spoofing around URLs, enabling more spam to bypass antispam filters.

Symantec recommends the following best practises to safeguard against spam and phishing attacks:

* Use directions provided by your mail administrators to report missed spam if you have an option to do so

* Delete all spam

* Avoid clicking on suspicious links in email or IM messages as these may connect you to spoofed websites

* Type web addresses directly into the browser rather than relying upon links within your messages

* Always be sure that your operating system is up-to-date with the latest updates, and employ a comprehensive security suite

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