The Spam Report, March 2008

What can consumers learn from the internet’s biggest irritation and inconvenience?

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By  Quintin Smith Published  March 30, 2008

With a little help from Symantec's monthly spam report, here we’ll be examining the spam which accounts for 78.5% of all email, telling you which cultural and political trends are changing the spam industry and making sure you don’t get taken in by the latest schemes.

Fears of an upcoming financial recession in the USA are being reflected in the nation’s spam, with a significant surge of spam emails related to buying and selling houses and land. The emails encourage readers to “Refinance before it’s too late”, or “Take out a mortgage for the lowest price ever”.

Some of this spam even makes reference to burial plots, pointing out that the price of the country’s burial ground in 1978 was $200 per person and this has since skyrocketed to $4500. “Get started today”, the junk email warns, “because tomorrow could be too late.”

A growing trend that the rest of us would do well to watch out for is ‘brandjacking’. This is where a spammer will use the graphics and letterheads of known companies to encourage readers to click on links or hand over personal information.

A recent example of this has been spammers’ use of Southwest Airlines’ name to tell users that they’ve won two free airline tickets. Users are then led through the online ‘claiming process’, filling out forms of personal information that are then sent directly to the spammers.

Finally, an interesting new type of Trojan known as Trojan.Srizbi has been inflicted on the public. A Trojan is a piece of software which performs an action other than the one it appears to do, and this particular Trojan is automatically downloaded by clicking on links in spam offering celebrity videos.

What makes this new Trojan interesting is that it’s the first piece of malicious software spotted in the wild to run in full-kernel mode. That means it operates hardware directly without having a surface-level user application, giving it privileged access to system resources and making it challenging to root out and remove.

Thanks again to Symantec for the info.

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