The volume of e-mail traffic in May increased by 2,1% over the previous month, although there has been a noticeable lowering in phishing scams – however, free online games could be emerging as the new hook to trap the unwary user.
This is according to Kaspersky Lab’s report on spam activity for May 2011, which found that spam now makes up an average of 82,9% of all e-mail.
In May, spammers actively used current hot topics in the news to deceive users. In particular, a surge in the number of messages was detected exploiting the news of the death of Osama bin Laden. Such messages contained malicious files as well as links to legitimate payware. The news was even used in the e-mails of the so-called Nigerian scammers. The trick they used to attempt to extract funds generally stayed the same – the scammers request payment of a small sum with the promise of being returned a much bigger sum in the future.
It is worth noting that, instead of traditional requests for “help”, in a new type of e-mail users are threatened with their accounts being frozen on the pretext of suspicions that somehow they are connected with terrorists.
Russia has become the world leader in terms of the quantity of malware found in e-mails detected by antivirus programs. The US now comes second and the amount of infected e-mails sent to American users fell by 3,5 percentage points.
The most widespread malware distributed via email was the Trojan-Spy program Trojan-Spy.HTML.Fraud.gen. Worms like Email-Worm.Win32.Mydoom.m, Email-Worm.Win32.Bagle.gt and Email-Worm.Win32.NetSky.q all remained high in the ratings, while newcomers included two Trojan-Downloader.Win32.FraudLoad Trojans. This type of program installs fake antivirus programs on PCs.
The most marked changes took place in the ratings of web services attacked the most with the use of phishing e-mails, with 4,67% of all phishing e-mails intended to steal passwords for the popular free online game RuneScape. As a result, this platform made its debut in the top ten straight in at number three – way ahead of World of Warcraft, the most popular online game in the world. RuneScape is of interest to cybercriminals more than even user details of the popular social networking site Facebook. But the overall leader in the rating remained the payment system PayPal, which saw a small rise in the number of phishing emails (23,28 percentage points up on the figure for April 2011).