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BLOG: Spammers sprint for Olympic Gold

Tan Yuh Woei | Aug. 23, 2012
Some threats and scams from the 2012 London Olympics

Olympic-themed spam and scams: According to the Symantec Intelligence Report, while there was an especially busy period for a week in mid-June, the Olympic-related spam rate increased steadily for the most part, effectively doubling from late May to late July, when the Games began.

The scams behind these spam runs were generally focused on gathering personal information from the user. Fake MasterCardTM and VisaTM promotions would redirect users to a phishing page that asked for credit card details.

Fewer phishes worldwide

While special global events always attract more miscreants and variations in existing malware, the Symantec Monthly Intelligence Report for July 2012 shows a decrease in phishing websites and email-borne malware globally. The number of phishing websites decreased by 1.8 percent in July while email-borne viruses saw a 0.023 percentage point decline.

The Netherlands remained the country most targeted by phishing attacks in July, with one in 94.4 e-mails identified as phishing attacks. South Africa was the second-most targeted country, with one in 171.2 e-mails identified as phishing attacks. In Australia, phishing activity accounted for one in 752.1 e-mails and one in 2,241.4 in Hong Kong; for Japan it was one in 7,448.8 and one in 3,450.6 for Singapore.

The Netherlands also remained the geography with the highest ratio of malicious e-mail activity in July, with one in 82.2 e-mails identified as malicious. For Japan the rate was one in 2,083.7, compared with one in 902.3 in Singapore.

With a spam rate of 79 percent, Saudi Arabia was the most spammed geography in July. In Hong Kong, 67 percent of e-mail was blocked as spam and 66.6 percent in Singapore compared with 64.1 percent in Japan.

In terms of industry sectors, the education sector was the most spammed in July with a spam rate of 70.3 percent closely followed by the automotive sector with a 69 percent spam rate. The public sector remained the most targeted by phishing activity and email-borne malware followed by the chemical and pharmaceutical sector. It's also worth noting that small to medium-sized businesses are seeing much higher phishing and malware attacks than large enterprises.

While threats continue to evolve, going for different geographical and industry targets over time, the basics remain the same. As long as users are vigilant and have up-to-date security software, almost all of these fly by night attacks can be successfully blocked. From an end-user perspective, a few best practices such as not clicking on suspicious links, never entering confidential information in a pop-up page or screen and frequently running security scans and updating security software is all the protection needed. Ensure employees keep to such practices at work and at home, and the next Monthly Intelligence Report could show significantly different trends.

Tan Yuh Woei is country director, Singapore, Symantec


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