March 12, 2015

Financial data leads the malicious spam hit list for fourth year in a row

For the fourth year running programs designed to steal users logins, passwords and other confidential data remain on top of the list of the most widespread malware distributed by email, according to Kaspersky Lab.

For the fourth year running programs designed to steal users logins, passwords and other confidential data remain on top of the list of the most widespread malware distributed by email, according to Kaspersky Lab.

The Internet security experts summarized spammer activity for 2014:

  • The proportion of spam in email flows was 66.8% in 2014, which is 2.8 percentage points lower than the previous year.
  • The reduced level of spam emails is explained by the fact that the advertising of legal goods and services is migrating to more effective legal platforms.
  • The largest proportion of malicious emails (9.8%) targeted users in the USA. The UK was in second place (9.6%) followed by Germany (9.2%)
  • The biggest source of spam was the USA (16.7%)
  • 42.6% of phishing attacks targeted global portals that integrate many services accessed via a single account.
  • Users in Russia faced the highest proportion of all phishing attacks – 17.28% of the total number of attacks worldwide
  • The country with the highest proportion of users targeted by phishers, meanwhile, was Brazil, where 27.5% of all Kaspersky Lab users in the country faced an attack. Australia was second with 23.8%, India and France were close behind on 23% each.
  • The Top 3 organizations whose brand identities were most often used in phishing attacks were Yahoo! with 23.3%, Facebook with 10% and Google with 8.7% of the attacks.

Mobile spam

Spam mailings imitating emails sent from mobile devices are becoming very popular. We found emails like this in several languages. They iPad, iPhone, Samsung Galaxy and other models. These messages had one thing in common – very short (or non-existent) text and a signature reading “Sent from my iPhone”. Typically, they contain links to malicious attachments.

Fake notifications from mobile applications

Generally spam mass mailings imitate notifications from different mobile applications such as WhatsApp and Viber. Users are familiar with the synchronization of cross-platform apps and the synchronization of contact data between apps and different notifications from them. As a result many mobile device owners don’t think twice about an email saying that something has arrived on their mobile messenger. But this is a mistake: these mobile applications are not connected to the user's email account, which proves that such emails are obviously fake.

“Fake bank notifications are among the most common types of malicious spam or phishing attacks. Recently, we have seen noticeable changes in the structure of some phishing email. In 2014, spammers began to complicate the design of fake messages by adding more links to official resources and services of the organizations from which they claim to be sending their bogus notifications. Obviously, the attackers hope that an email with a few legitimate links would be recognized as legitimate by users and spam filters alike. Meanwhile, the email contains a single fraudulent link that either redirects users to a phishing site or downloads a malicious archive”, said Maria Vergelis, Spam Analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

Where’s the spam coming from?

The Top 3 countries that produced the majority of spam mass mailings comprised the USA (16.7%), Russia (5.9%) and China (5.5%).

To learn more about spam in 2014, please read the blog post available at Securelist.com.

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