After a sharp increase in spam volumes in February 2013, the first month of spring saw the flow of junk mail stabilise at a level of 70.1 per cent. However, despite this reduction, users could not afford to relax as the share of malicious attachments in unsolicited e-mail correspondence increased simultaneously by 1.2 per cent in March and averaged at 4 per cent.
The death of Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez not only hit the global headlines – it also alerted fraudsters to the Latin American country. There was an instant reaction to the news, and it immediately began to appear in mass mailings. One example claimed to come from the chief of Venezuela’s sea ports, who was apparently looking for help to recover the money he had received after selling diesel fuel to South Sudan. In the first email the scammers did not offer any specific reward, aiming simply to generate interest and get responses. Only later in the correspondence was any cash reward discussed.
Another mass mailing was sent supposedly on behalf of the head of security and a close friend of Chavez. As always, the imagination of these "Nigerian" fraudsters knows no bounds: this mythical "friend" has access to the money which the late president kept on the bank account of his secret lover. Apparently, the lucky recipient of the email can have 25 per cent of the sum in return for assistance in transferring this money out of the country.
After a short lull, the scammers distributing malware via email, resumed sending fake notifications from popular online booking services. In March, we registered a new mass mailing allegedly coming from the Atlantic Hotel booking service: the supposed hotel manager informed the recipient that his arrival was expected on March 20, 2013. The attached file contained an archive which, when opened, infected the computer with a Trojan designed to extort money or financial information from users.
In March the U.S. and China vied for top spot among the world’s biggest sources of spam. Last month the battle was won by the Chinese, who accounted for a quarter of all junk mail (+11.4 per cent). At the same time, the U.S. contribution increased slightly (+0.4 per cent) remaining in second position.
Italy’s unexpected rise to first place in the rating of email antivirus detections in February (6.6 per cent) did not last. In March it was replaced by the U.S. (13.6 per cent). Germany came second again (11.1 per cent): its share remaining almost unchanged from February. It was followed by Australia (7 per cent), whose contribution grew by 1.3 per cent points moving it from fifth to third place. There was little change to the percentages of the other countries in the rating.
In March, the percentage of phishing emails in total email traffic doubled from February and averaged 0.006 per cent. Social networking sites continued to be the most attractive target for phishers’ attacks. The top three also included financial and e-pay organisations and search engines, which came second and third respectively.
“March was a stable month for spam. This is reflected not only in the percentage of junk email but also the geographical distribution of its main sources, primarily the U.S. and China, which totally produced 43 per cent of global spam”, commented Tatyana Shcherbakova, Kaspersky Lab senior spam analyst. “The twofold increase in the amount of phishing emails in March means users must be more watchful. This is particularly true for people with accounts on social networking sites: one third of all phishing attacks targeted this category of users."
The full version of the spam report for March 2013 is available at securelist.com