Spam is on the rise, and as of July 2010 comprises 92% of all e-mail messages, up from 89% just one year ago, according to a new Symantec study of spam and phishing trends.
Alarmingly, Symantec has also discovered a new type of attack that spoofs an e-commerce website's "live chat" feature that targets a person's login ID and password for the legitimate e-commerce site. "The phishing site involved bogus chat sessions to help the page look more authentic, trying to give customers the impression that the phishing website was interactive," said Symantec.
On the good news front, however, the amount of spam containing a phishing attack declined from June to July of this year by 5%.
Likewise, the number of different kinds of phishing attacks overall has been declining. In particular, the number of unique phishing websites -- created by automatic attack toolkits -- decreased by 60% from June to July, though the number of unique URLs used in phishing attacks increased by 10%.
In addition, non-English phishing sites -- especially in French and Italian -- have been continuing to grow, increasing by 15% from June to July of this year.
Spammers, ever topical, also continue to shift their tactics. A year ago, Barack Obama and Michael Jackson led the spam subject-line charts, while this past June the World Cup dominated. In July 2010, however, the most-seen spam subject line was "claim your part of the $20 billion BP oil fund."
Regional variations, however, are in full effect. Cruelly, Russian spammers are blanketing their country -- in the grip of a combined heat wave and wildfires of unknown magnitude -- with false advertisements for air conditioners.