MCLEAN, Virginia, May 1, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --
Unwanted and dangerous email increased dramatically in the first quarter of 2013, according to a Q1 Internet Threats Trend Report issued by Commtouch ® (NASDAQ: CTCH), a leading provider of Internet security technology and cloud-based services. During the first quarter of 2013, an average of 97.4 billion spam emails and 973 million malware emails were sent worldwide each day. In March, the number of daily spam emails significantly exceeded the 100 billion mark (117.8 billion).
Spam levels doubled between December 2012 and March 2013, a 98 percent increase. Phishing also increased dramatically, with the number of phishing emails swelling to more than 74 percent in March, compared to the previous December. The largest increase, however, could be observed with email-borne malware: levels of emails carrying known malware were 157 percent higher in March than in December. For virus outbreaks, the increase was a stunning 290 percent.The biggest part of this growth occurred in March. Compared to February, spam levels increased by 41 percent, known malware by 75 percent, and virus outbreaks by 124 percent. Only phishing volumes broke the trend, as they only increased by eight percent in March. The current increase is unusual in that historically spam and malware levels rarely correspond. In the past, when one category increased, the other often decreased or at least stagnated. The significance of the first quarter growth is underlined by comparisons with the respective volumes in March 2012: In March 2013, spam levels were 48 percent higher than the previous year, malware emails were 255 percent higher, and malware outbreaks were 251 percent higher. Only phishing levels decreased since March 2012. Other report highlights:
- Pump and dump spam, also known as penny stock spam, one of the most popular topics among spammers between 2006 and 2008, made a forceful comeback in Q1 after having all but disappeared in previous years. In March 2013, pump and dump spam dominated the list of spam topics. Eighteen percent of the top 25 spam emails (with a combined volume of 46 percent of all spam) were pump and dump mailings. The trick was the same as in previous years. The emails advertise cheap shares with very small trading volumes, indicating there was significant earning potential in them. If only a few recipients can be fooled into buying the stock, the value will rise significantly and the spammers who have bought shares at the lower price can cash in.
- Current news events were extensively used to lure email users to Web sites infected with malware. Fake email news alerts allegedly coming from CNN or the BBC exploited breaking news stories, such as the election of the new pope and the financial crisis in Cyprus. They linked to Web sites carrying the Blackhole exploit kit.
- The United States was the largest source of spam in the first quarter of 2013, topping the list of spam senders with a share of 9.1 percent of the overall volume. The United States was followed by Belarus (6.5%), Spain (5.6%), Argentina (5.0%) and India (4.3%).