Just when You Thought it was Safe to Go Back to the Inbox…

What’s this? Spam on a continual decline, you say? You’ve conquered this disease known as spam? All your email users are safe and snug and able to play around in that virtual sandbox known as the Interwebs without the slightest fear of getting a boo-boo. Hooray for you. Now, for your next trick, we suppose that you’re going to find a cure for the common cold.

Not so fast, Sparky. All the rubbish you’ve been reading out there (not here) about the demise of e-mail spam is just that. Pure rubbish. Don’t believe me? That’s okay, I come bearing ammunition, a little something called proof. Read on, Macduff!

LinkedIn should be renamed SinkedIn

News of breaches at LinkedIn, eHarmony, and Last.fm this past week sent waves of general disinterest throughout the digital world. No one really seemed to care much about the lost passwords, whose weak nature was exposed to anyone who cared to look. In fact, the most disturbing aspect of this story is not the exposed passes, but rather how quickly the Web world has turned on LinkedIn, vilifying the social networking site, it seems, for its own users’ stupidity. Now, it’s true that LinkedIn has a responsibility for a) demanding and enforcing, not suggesting, rules for passwords, and b) making sensitive information like passwords available in unencrypted form. Damn, man, can you imagine if, oh say, Sony Corporation, did something that stupid? Oh, wait…nevermind.

But that’s not the end of the story. In fact, it’s only the beginning, if reports of spam campaigns taking advantage of LinkedIn’s embarrassing foible are true. Who said spammers are stupid? Well, it’s probably been said here a few times, but we also give credit where it’s due.

Holy exploding spam growth, Batman!

As little Alex expounded in A Clockwork Orange, “Welly, welly, welly, welly, welly, welly, well. To what do I owe the extreme pleasure of this surprising visit?” Fear not, my droogs, the explosion of spam in May is only the beginning. Those of you who were getting nice and comfy, curled up in the blanket of denial, thinking that email spam was, finally, dead and gone, you’d better think again (and take that blanket off. It looks silly).

According to German email security provider Eleven’s ‘E-Mail Security Report” for June 2012, malware was up last month “by more than a factor of 10, growing by 927.4 percent from April to May.” Sure, this shocking increase can, in part, be blamed on the upcoming Summer Games in London, but if you think the spammers are going to wait another two years for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi before they unleash their next wave of spammy badness, then you need to stop wrapping that blanket of denial around your head like a tinfoil hat. This news is neither good nor welcome, but it’s the cold, hard truth:

“the volume of spam emails was also back on the rise, while virus outbreaks more than tripled, up by 251.6 percent, according to the report.”

Doubt it not: this strike is surgical

GFI Software recently released its VIPRE® Report for May 2012, a collection of the 10 most prevalent threat detections encountered in the month of May, and wouldn’t you know it? The news is neither good nor welcome. Digital Journal points out that GFI’s report flags Tumblr as a popular target for cybercriminals looking to separate users from their earnings. A popular tactic appears to be tricking users by using familiar images.

“More and more,” says Christopher Boyd, Senior Threat Researcher at GFI Software, “cybercriminals are exploiting the familiarity of terms and images in order to distract the victim from the dangers that are present as they sign away their personal information and click on links that lead to nothing but trouble.”

GFI’s report, the Digital Journal highlights, also notes that

Google Play (formerly the Android Market) has become a breeding ground for spammers purveying “spam applications designed to lure users into installing them by exploiting the brand recognition of popular movie franchises, musicians, video games and stores. Each of the malicious apps spammed the victim’s mobile device with surveys and advertising offers while failing to perform functions as advertised.”

In case you didn’t notice the pattern emerging here, it seems that spammers are surgically attacking using the entire Web, not just a single aspect of it. Email, social media, digital bookmarking, messaging, business networking, and so-on and so-forth.

The message? Nothing is safe.

Written by Malcolm James


  1. Connie Ryan · June 12, 2012

    I have to wonder which companies are going to be security-savvy enough to get their hands on the leaked LinkedIn data (hey, if it’s out there…) and use it to determine employment for candidates looking to fill jobs that handle sensitive information. If they can’t even keep their social networks safe, how can they be trusted with confidential company data?

  2. Krista Palo · June 17, 2012

    I’m a long Android fan and was a victim (several times!) of several apps that purport to do one thing but all they really do is bombard you with ads.

    I like Android still, and Google apps have been very, very useful for me. I could literally work with just my phone. However, Google should be more stringent with their third party developers given how prevalent spamming is and how particularly naive most users are.

    I can’t say much about the iOS or BB or Ovi Store or how effective they are in pruning the apps that go into their store, but I sure do hope they all are more conscious about these things.

  3. Danika Thomson · June 29, 2012

    With the penchant for oversharing and the exponential increase of online behaviour among the later generations, it is not surprising that phishing and distribution of malware through social media sites has been growing in attempts.

    Email, in fact, is no longer the preferred means of communication. If you want your message read immediately, send a Facebook or LinkedIn message in private or through a group. People look up their social media accounts more often within the day than their emails. It is discouraging to note, however, that these sites have not kept upon with the intrusions of malware and phishing attacks and have not beefed up their security measures to put them at bay.

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