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Stock exchange scams top the spam list for 2007

BitDefender UK : 14 August, 2007  (Technical Article)
Bitdefender publishes findings of 2007 spam research with pump and dump scams coming first followed by a variety of image spam.
A report published by BitDefender on the propositions most commonly solicited by image and text spam, has found that pump-and-dump penny stocks were the most common theme during the first half of 2007. Image spam is now the medium of choice and trailing behind in second place in this category, comes spam pushing sexual enhancing drugs.

A Spam league table drawn up by BitDefender Labs, ranks the subjects of image spam since January 2007 as follows:

1 stock 75.00 %.
2 drugs (sex-related) 8.1 %.
3 replica watches 5.0 %.
4 mortgages 4.0 %.
5 phishing 2.0 %.
6 pornography 2.0 %.
7 diploma (fake qualifications) 1.0 %.
8 drugs (weight-loss related) 0.9 %.
9 travel 0.5 %.
10 software 0.5 %.
11 random topics 1.0 %.

While image spam was shown to be popular for penny stock spammers, BitDefender Labs found text spam to be the preferred choice for drug-related topics. Spam messages for sexual enhancing and weight loss drugs accounted for 56 per cent of all text spam. This was followed by Spam hawking replica watches, which came in at the third place in both of BitDefender's image and text spam lists.

According to BitDefender Labs, the most common subjects of text spam since January 2007 included:

1 drugs (sex-related) 42.5 %.
2 drugs (weight-loss related) 13.8 %.
3 replica watches 9.1 %.
4 mortgages 7.4 %.
5 phishing 4.2 %.
6 electronics 3.8 %.
7 travelling 3.6 %.
8 stock 3.6 %.
9 software 2.5 %.
10 diplomas 2.1 %.
11 grants 1.5 %.
12 dating 0.5 %.
13 other topics 5.4 %.

New types of spam have emerged in 2007, most notably hosted-image spam, which instead of containing an image, provides a link to a website hosting the spam. Spam with attachments, such as a PDF file, is another type of spam that has become more apparent since the beginning of 2007.

In terms of anti-antispam measures, the latest trends are the use of malformed mail boundaries, which make it hard to unpack e-mails for inspection, and the use of malformed HTML code in an attempt to confuse parsers. Bayes poisoning and word obfuscation were found by BitDefender Labs to be used less frequently than in previous years.

Commenting on the report, Vlad Valceanu, head of BitDefender's Antispam Laboratory said: 'Among the trends we found were that spammers are e-mailing fewer targets at a time, while introducing small variations in every e-mail sent in hopes of avoiding timely detection. We expect to see more of this in the next half of the year, as well as an increased use of attachments and possibly even embedded flash.'
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