Spam and Phishing Report: Scammers Taking Advantage of Major Events - Slide 10

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  • The education sector became the most spammed industry sector in January, with a spam rate of 71.0 percent.
  • The spam rate for the chemical & pharmaceutical sector was 69.0 percent, compared with 68.7 percent for IT services, 68.4 percent for retail, 68.9 percent for public sector and 68.2 percent for finance.
  • The public sector remained the most targeted by phishing activity in January, with one in 99.1 emails comprising a phishing attack.
  • Phishing levels for the chemical & pharmaceutical sector reached one in 838.0 and one in 647.8 for the IT services sector, one in 529.4 for retail, one in 169.4 for education and one in 253.7 for finance.
  • With one in 90.2 emails being blocked as malicious, the public sector remained the most targeted industry in January.
  • The virus rate for the chemical & pharmaceutical sector reached one in 381.3 and one in 399.4 for the IT services sector; one in 407.1 for retail, one in 138.3for education and one in 236.7 for finance.

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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