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Symantec Reports Rise in Phishing Attacks in July 2009

Symantec, which monitored phishing and spam activity during July 2009, released its new e-threat report. The report says that there was a 52% increase in phishing attacks during the month while the rate of e-mail spam remained constant as compared to June 2009.

The report further discloses that phishers have been using free Web services as convenient platforms to launch their operations as they mean nil cost and little technical expertise to create a website. As many as 130 Web-hosting firms supported 2,402 phishing websites during July, Symantec reveals.

Moreover, phishers have been abusing lawful Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates to make them label their bogus sites as safe. Since such a certified site shows the popular SSL padlock symbol, the user imagines he is secured, Symantec notes.

Among the countries that harbored phishing websites, the USA once again dominated by hosting 29% of the global phishing sites. China came second with 9% of global phishing websites.

Symantec reports that e-mail spam during July remained at an average of 89% of the total e-mail compared to 90% in June. The junk e-mails displayed certain distinct trends like image spam that escapes anti-spam software by inserting spam into an image, contributed 17% of the total spam in July. Conversely, Nigerian hoax spam or '419 spam' rose 3% while pharmaceutical spam dropped 17%.

Moreover, spammers kept on exploiting events and famous personalities making the headlines, to distribute their malicious e-mails, Symantec observes. Some well-known captions used in July spam related to Michael Jackson's death and these were "Jackson is still alive: Proof" and "Who Killed Michael Jackson."

However, spam and malware campaigns related to Michael Jackson had disappeared towards the end of July. Instead fresh attacks appeared taking advantage of people's fear about the healthcare schemes of President Barack Obama and the enthusiasm surrounding Harry Potter, the report discloses.

Additionally, health-related spam exploited both fear and hope. While certain spam posed as presenting meds from Obama's fresh schemes for healthcare, others cautioned recipients to hoard meds before their exhaustion so that Obama could exterminate senior citizens -an issue that framed new conspiracy theories.

Related article: Sentence for American Contractor for Sabotaging Government Navy Computers

» SPAMfighter News - 8/25/2009

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