There is overwhelming evidence that cybercriminals are adapting their messaging with changes in the economic landscape.
Recently, Panda Security reported a correlation between stock market declines and increased malware attacks. Upon further investigating the content of spam campaigns that have experienced the most growth over the last two months, it is evident that cybercriminals have become more sophisticated and are preying on the current economic misfortunes of consumers.
According to Panda, spam continues to make up 90%-95% of all e-mail traffic, with spam related to the economy representing ten percent of total spam.
Since the stockmarket began to take a steady decline in September, Cloudmark reported that while overall spam has increased five percent, the new spam related to the economy and personal finances has increased by twice that amount – or 10% – during this period.
Examples include malware attacks targeting consumers with credit card debt, as well as phishing attacks targeting individuals undergoing property foreclosure.
By offering consumers relief for their financial woes, these attacks dupe users into clicking on links included or embedded in the emails, an action that automatically downloads viruses or redirects them to phishing sites.
"One of our biggest concerns for 2008 was that cybercriminals would improve their targeted spamming tactics to dupe consumers, and the content and volume that we have seen during these tough economic times is proof that unfortunately our prediction was correct," says Jeremy Matthews, the head of sub-Saharan operations at Panda Security.
"With content this timely and this targeted, there is no doubt that cybercriminals are upping the ante with their tactics, and we are doing everything we can to stay ahead of them."