With The Elections Over, What Will Spammers Do?

With the United States presidential elections having come and gone spammers will definitely be looking for new topics that will engage their victims enough to increase the open rates of their illicit email campaigns.

You see, spammers have become rather adept at using their victims’ emotions against them. Whether they are trying to sell pharmaceuticals, hock lower mortgage rates or install a malicious Trojan file the spammers, at least the successful ones, have long understood the simple fact that they need the recipient to first open the email message.

The presidential elections offered these cyber criminals an opportunity to play off of one of the strongest feelings an individual can have, their political beliefs. Through bogus news stories, latest poll results and scandalous claims spammers were able to really intrigue a large number of victims into opening malicious emails.

But what now? The biggest news story has come and gone, so where to spammers turn next?

If history has taught us anything then we can safely assume that spammers will likely turn to some of their more successful subject lines to keep their illicit activities going.

In my opinion, the following topics will be ones that we start seeing in our inboxes over the next couple of months:

Pharmaceuticals

This one is really a staple of the spammer’s arsenal. Add to this the fact that five of the top ten worst spammers in the world are known for promoting pharmaceuticals and you can safely assume that a majority of spam messages we see will be linked to legal drugs, herbal and natural cures and of course the male enhancement products.

Healthcare also continues to be a hotly contested topic of discussion worldwide and the cost of medicinal care continues to skyrocket. Spammers also know that they can sell their victims on quick fixes and the allure of all-natural cures. After all, who would want to spend hours at the gym sweating when they can get more energy and lose weight quickly from a bottle of the next big wonder pill?

Casinos

After Rustock was taken down in 2011 casino related spam became one of the hottest subjects and was credited for the uptick in spam levels between August and December of 2011. Once casino spam waned, the levels of overall spam also dropped.

Spam advertising online gambling proved to be successful and because of that, anti-spam filters were tuned into to stopping these messages from being delivered. As we all know, spammers don’t quit, they adjust. Once they are able to regroup, probably right around the time that college football bowl season comes around and the super bowl is right around the corner, we can bet that will we see levels of this type of spam grow.

Disaster relief

Hurricanes, tough winter storms and disasters we haven’t even seen yet are fodder for the bad guys. Always looking to play off the human emotions of sympathy and good will, spammers have already started scamming people based on the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy and the subsequent nor’easter.  As the world faces other natural disasters in the future, spammers will continue to solicit “donations” from people willing to give.

If you receive an email that prompts you to want to donate, don’t let the fear of falling for a scam prevent you from helping out. Simply visit the website of a legitimate aid organization and donate directly to the source.

Politics

The election may be over, but there are still strong emotions tied in to politics and those emotions will be used by cyber criminals as much as possible. With economic, political and social unrest happening around the world and political scandals making for soap opera like reading, expect to see emails touting the failures of elected officials world wide as bait for phishing attacks rise.  Instead of reading a news story about political bumbling, you may find your computer infected by a malicious or hijacked website.

Of course, the year 2014 is just around the corner so pretty soon we can expect to start seeing spam and phishing attacks related to the World Cup and the Winter Olympic Games. Global events like these always provide a steady stream of subject lines for the bad guys.

Written by Jeff

0 Comments

  1. Addison Moore · November 14, 2012

    Spammers will never run out of things to talk about. And like what the writer said, they will continue to toy with other people’s emotions. Perhaps the writer has forgotten, though, that a lot of them will be shifting their attention to the holidays starting with Thanksgiving, which is approaching very fast, by the way. It will last for about 3 months or until the New Year. So people should be wary about promos, sales, discounts, and any holiday-bearing subjects from strangers. There’s a good chance the mail is spam or worse a phishing mail, which has the capability to steal vital information such as usernames and passwords.

  2. Alan Truman · November 17, 2012

    Addison is 100 percent right. I do not understand why the writer still has to ask that question. When did they ever stop? In fact, every day is a good day to send out those nasty spam e-mails. I think what the writer should ask is when they are going to officially end. But I would understand if he’s not able to answer that. I think no one does! I know that many have taken huge efforts, but sad to say, they are still not enough. Spamming still continues, and it looks like it’s bound to become stronger over time.

  3. Jeff Orloff · November 19, 2012

    Alan, both you and Addison make great points. The cycle of spam will always follow the news cycles which is why the lead paragraph states, “With the United States presidential elections having come and gone spammers will definitely be looking for new topics that will engage their victims enough to increase the open rates of their illicit email campaigns.” With the holidays following the elections they are always a prime subject for spammers. We also know that sporting events and even everyday news stories will be manipulated by spammers.

    When is it going to end? That answer is simple. When there is no more money to be made from spamming. That doesn’t seem to be anywhere on the horizon though. Spam and phishing is still a multi-million dollar industry so it won’t stop. We can only take the steps necessary to prevent ourselves and our users from falling victim.

  4. Rhoda · December 3, 2012

    You are 100 percent correct, Jeff. In fact, they seem to be evolving; they are more cunning or smarter. It seems to be much easier for them to steal e-mail addresses and use commonly tapped tools such as E-mail a Friend feature to spread spam virally. With the in-demand use of mobile devices such as smart phones, I fear that they will soon learn how to break into the system, and steal more confidential and personal data stored such as personal phone numbers of friends and family. If this becomes serious, I might just think about going off the grid. Haha!

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