Report Finds Explosive Growth in Infected Emails; Spam and Phishing On The Rise

(Ping! Zine Web Tech Magazine) – Once again, it seems we are all doomed to succumb to online malware as the numbers always seem to keep rising.

According to a recent study, the above statement remains true. German email security provider, eleven released their E-Mail Security Report for June 2012. The report found that the months of April and May 2012 were shaped by a significant increase in malware, phishing and spam.

There was an explosive rise in the number of malware-infected e-mails with the volume of known malware swelling by more than a factor of ten, growing by 927.4% from April to May, while virus outbreaks more than tripled, up by 251.6%.

The explosive increase in malware can once again be traced back to Trojans above all else. In addition to well-known culprits such as Zbot, the eleven research team observed a strong wave of less widespread malware, including the Matsnu, Bublik and Gypikon Trojans. Fake delivery notifications, mobile phone bills and order statements were once again popular tricks. However, there were also incidents of blackmail which threatened recipients with legal action and purported to have photographic evidence attached. However, the attachment was a Trojan.

The volume of spam e-mails was also back on the rise following a slight decline of 3.7% in the first quarter of 2012. In May alone, occurrences of spam grew by 17.3%.

One factor contributing to the increase of spam in April and May was the continued trend of using public holidays and major events as an occasion or cover for spam campaigns. In addition to numerous waves of spam in the run-up to Mother’s Day, the Olympic Games in London were already having an influence on spam activities in May. In particular, fake ticket lotteries were often used as a vehicle for spam and phishing e-mails. It is fair to assume that this trend will become significantly more prevalent until the Games start on July 27, 2012.

Despite the increase in spam e-mail occurrences, the proportion of actual spam fell between March and May 2012 from 72.9% to 67.4%. The main reason for this development was the sharp rise in other types of e-mail, particularly malware-infected e-mails.

Phishing attacks continued to rise as well, with instances up by 23.6% in May after overall increase of almost 170% in the first quarter.