The Spam Report, August 2009
The United Arab Emirates is getting no respite from spam with the country registering an increase of spam rate of more than 95% this month
The startling figure released by MessageLabs in their latest intelligence report contradicts a global decrease in spam rate that stood at 89%. While the UAE has registered high on the list, Germany is crowned the most spammed country in the world with levels rising to 97.5%.
Some of the most notable spamming trends include an increase in multi-language campaigns and the presence of shortened URLs in messages. Automated translation services that enable spam runs to operate in multiple languages has been singled out as a factor for the unprecedented levels of spam in countries such as Germany, France and The Netherlands that have all experienced spam levels of over 95%.
Unwanted messages in local languages now account for 46% of spam in Germany, 53% in France, 25% in The Netherlands. Messages in non-English languages make up more than 62% of spam in Japan and about 55% in China.
The other major spam trend is shortened URLs in messages since many social networking sites like Twitter provide character restrictions on status updates and messages. The use of free URL redirection services, which turn lengthy web addresses into shortened URLs, are being used by cybercriminals to disguise the true URL destination for their victims.
Donbot, a botnet responsible for sending approximately five billion spam messages every day, is one of the main culprits for using this new technique. For the uninitiated, botnet is a term which refers to an army of computers that, without the owner’s knowledge, are set up to forward spam and viruses to other computers online.
It’s not just MessageLabs that’s singing the increasing spam song – McAfee’s quarterly web threat reports have warned that more than 14 million computers are now under the control of cybercriminals through botnets. Compared to the first quarter of the year, there’s been a staggering 141% increase in spam, which also includes the growing threat auto-run malware poses. Such malware exploit Windows’ auto-run capabilities, spreading through portable USB and storage devices. To get an idea of how big a threat it poses, here’s a figure that’ll get your attention – auto-run malware was found to have infected more than 27 million files in just 30 days.
On the flip side, there’s been a sharp decline new web-based malware compared to last month when more than half of every malware sample analysed hadn’t been recorded before. Malware writers seem to be taking a breather…or are they just preparing for a fresh wave of malicious attacks?