Spam and Phishing Report: Scammers Taking Advantage of Major Events - Slide 8

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  • The Netherlands became the country most targeted for phishing attacks in January, with one in 62.6 emails identified as phishing.
  • The UK was the second most targeted country, with one in 179.4 emails identified as phishing attacks.
  • Phishing levels for the U.S. were one in 1,145 and one in 379.9 for Canada.
  • In Germany phishing levels were one in 797.6, one in 330.9 in Denmark.
  • In Australia, phishing activity accounted for one in 542.2 emails and one in 942.9 in Hong Kong; for Japan it was one in 5,692 and one in 1,156 for Singapore.
  • In Brazil one in 1,007 emails was blocked as phishing.

Symantec Corp. recently announced the findings of its January Symantec Intelligence Report, which shows that spammers are using holidays and major events to make their mail more appealing.

Symantec Intelligence has seen more than 10,000 unique domain names compromised with a redirect script written in PHP that contains a reference to the new year in the filename. These redirect scripts were hosted on compromised websites and links to these were included in spam emails, which were subsequently blocked by Symantec.cloud.

To further entice recipients to open their messages, spammers used additional social engineering techniques by including parameters in the URL to suggest that the destination is a social networking site.

Symantec Intelligence expects to see spammers taking advantage of other upcoming “calendar events,” such as Chinese New Year and Valentine's Day.

“We also expect to see plenty of spam and malware taking advantage of some of the major upcoming sporting events this year. We are already seeing references to the Summer Olympics in London as part of 419 or advance fee fraud messages,” said Paul Wood, senior intelligence analyst, Symantec.

“By relating their mails to widely-celebrated holidays and current events with global interest, spammers and malware authors can (at first glance at least) make their messages more interesting, and increase the chance of recipients visiting spam Web sites or becoming infected,” Wood said.

During December, global spam levels dropped, but in January gradually returned to similar levels as in November 2011, which is still lower than the 2011 average.

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