Spam in May 2012: Made in China

14 Jun 2012
Spam News

In the last month of spring we saw a further reduction in the amount of spam found in email traffic: its share was down 3.4 percentage points, and fell to its lowest point since the start of the year – 73.8%. However users face all the risks associated with malware attachments and other fraudsters’ tricks.

Over the last few months spam traffic has regularly included messages offering the chance to cooperate with the manufacturers of various goods from China or with people willing to resell Chinese goods. These emails usually contain a short text promising high profits from selling unspecified "plastic items" or "textiles" (In May, for example, one batch of messages was sent on behalf of a "socks manufacturer”). It is safe to say that these emails from Chinese “manufacturers” or “suppliers” are part of a new type of fraud based on “Nigerian” spam: the fraudsters are actively exploiting the growing interest investors have in the Chinese market. They target businessmen looking for contacts with Chinese manufacturers, and connect them with scammers who make off with their money and are never heard of again.

In May, the Travel and Tourism category showed some unusual behavior. It is difficult to say whether its share will increase in June: the holiday season has always been a catalyst for this type of spam, but mass mailings offering beach holidays are usually most prevalent in May and that didn’t happen this year.

Among the most popular phishing targets, social networks were overtaken by financial institutions. Despite this, about 20% of all phishing attacks were aimed at Facebook users. This underlines the fact that Facebook remains one of the phishers’ prime targets while their interest in other social networking sites is waning. And it appears that apart from an increase in online gaming and use of social networks, phishers expect the start of the summer holidays for schools and universities to spark a surge in online shopping. In May, at least, the share of phishing attacks on this sector rose considerably.

Maria Namestnikova, Kaspersky Lab’s senior spam analyst, says: “In May, the proportion of spam in mail traffic decreased considerably. This could be down to a seasonal fluctuation. If that is the case, spam will remain at a low level until August. However, this may be a systemic phenomenon, and in that case the share of spam in mail traffic will soon drop below 70%.”

The full version of the spam report for May 2012 is available at www.securelist.com

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