Internet Threats – Q3 trends for 2012

According to the latest research from internet security company Commtouch, Q3 of 2012 saw a marked increase in instances of malware specifically targetting devices using the Android operating system.


The trend no doubt reflects the growth in use of such devices for accessing emails and browsing the internet. One particular attack staged during the summer carried out a re-direct to a compromised website which recognised whether connections were coming from an Android OS device – and if this were the case, caused the user to automatically download malware. 


In terms of spam, the third quarter saw a major botnet taken offline. Grum was disabled over a couple of weeks, thanks to the efforts of FireEye and Spamhaus. However, as has been the case with similar take-downs, the impact on spam levels was dramatic, but ultimately only temporary as new botnets and command and control centres were quickly established to replace those disabled. 


One average during the period spam accounted for around 74% of all email sent. Again Gmail continued to be the most common domain used by spammers as the spoofed from address for mails. Yahoo and Facebook also figured prominently in the top 10 ‘sources’ of spam.


In terms of subjects covered by spam, those relating to online pharmacies allegedly peddling cialis, viagra and other drugs continued to be the most popular, despite falling 10% in terms of overall volume. 


As it typically the case, some of the more prominent events taking place during the summer also acted as springboards for spamming activity. This year’s Olympic Games in London saw a spate of campaigns centred on lotteries, tickets and also event-related merchandise.


Levels of email-attached malware actually rose during Q3 of 2012 – with the usual DHL/UPS delivery notifications being the standard approach adopted. Other tactics used in the delivery of malware focussed on use of email templates resembling those of Linkedin and Groupon – with recipients tending to be more likely to trust emails carrying well-recognised branding, thus exposing themselves to infection. 


Headline stats from the Q3 2012 Internt Threats Report include;


Number of spam emails sent per day = 87 billion


Average mails sent per day with malware attached = 1.9 billion


Most popular spam topic = pharmacy ads (over 31% of all spam)


Country with the most zombies = India (20% of all infected machines)


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