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PDF Spam Shows a Dramatic Fall

A firm in Boston reported in the end week of August 2007 that there was a dramatic decline in the volume of spam mails having PDF attachments. spammers use this technique mostly for the distribution of pump-and-dump scams.

SophosLabs, the analysis center for world network of spyware, virus and spam, compiled the research and find the level of PDF-based spam has declined from a peak of around 30% of total spam in early August 2007 to almost zero.

The trend in the decline but eradication of PDF spam is only because they are no longer as effective as before, said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. Vnunet.com reported this on August 29, 2007. The downward trend proves that spammers now find it more difficult to make people open the marketing e-mails distributed with the PDF file attachments.

The junk e-mails carrying PDF attachments usually drive the recipient into purchasing an artificially raised penny stock that the spammer unloads when its price escalates. Security vendor Sophos estimated that such unwanted e-mails account for close to 1% of total spam today.

Albeit PDF-based spam is falling, it does not mean that it has gone forever, said Ron O'Brien, senior security analyst at Boston-based Sophos Company. DarkREADING published this on August 29, 2007. The PDF attachments by their nature take longer to open that discourages users from clicking it. Conversely, a malicious link embedded in e-mail is easier and quicker to access, which increases the chances of people opening it. This probably is one explanation for the decline in PDF spam.

On August 7 2007, PDF spam levels spiked when a scam manipulated the stock value of Prime Time Group Inc., causing an increase in total spam levels by 30%. But after that incident, PDF spam came down sharply.

Spammers are in the business for the one and only reason of making money, continued O'Brien. If PDF spam has failed to work, they will try another mode of attack. That makes it so crucial in adopting safe e-mail and online practices, especially while clicking or opening any attachment or file.

Related article: PDF flaw gets fixed with Adobe patch

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