eleven E-Mail Security Report October 2012: Soaring Increase In Drive-by Attacks And Malware E-mails

Decline in spam levels in September due to the absence of major waves from Saudi Arabia

October 20, 2012

4 Min Read


Berlin, October 18, 2012 - In August and September 2012, the research team from eleven, leading German e-mail security provider, recorded a significant increase in malware sent via e-mail. These are the results of the eleven E-Mail Security Report October 2012 presented by the company today. The most significant growth was reported for drive-by attacks in which e-mails link to manipulated Web sites that infect the users' computers when opened in a browser. Between August and September 2012, the number of such attacks increased more than 80-fold and their share of overall spam levels increased from 0.1% to 9.5%. However, that growth was not at the expense of "classic" malware e-mail, which contains malware as an attachment: the number of malware e-mails increased by 119% in September and by 252.8% as compared to the same month in 2011. Virus outbreaks remained roughly at the previous month's level (-5.7%), but increased by 50.5% in August. The plus was 186.4% as compared to September 2011.

More trends in August and September 2012:

- Following strong growth in June and July, spam levels reduced somewhat in August and September: although levels remained at July's high level in August (-1.4%), those levels declined by 36.5% in September. There was an absence of several major spam waves, especially in the second half of September, and which were responsible for the drop (see graphic). Despite the decline, spam levels still remained above the values of the first five months of the year.

- The spam decline also impacted the share of spam e-mail in terms of overall e-mail levels: it was at 72.0% in September, while it had still been at 82.9% in August.

- The main cause for the decline in spam was the absence of major spam waves from Saudi Arabia, which had significantly contributed to the spam growth in June and July. In September, Saudi Arabia only came in seventh in the ranking of countries of spam origin with 5.3% of all spam e-mails; in August, the country had still been in first place with a record share of 28.9%. India once again came in first with 16.4%, followed by Turkey (5.8%) and Spain, which jumped from twelfth in August to third (5.6%). The US, the long-term spam leader, came in fifth with 4.3%. (see graphic)

- Considerably less spam came from Germany in September: in August 2012, German IP addresses ranked third in terms of countries of origin with 7.7%; in September, Germany only came in tenth with 2.7%.

- One noticeable change in September was a wider distribution in spamming: while the five largest spam countries of origin were still responsible for significantly more than half of all spam e-mails in August (59.9%), that share fell to slightly more than one third in September (38.7%). In September, the share of top-ten spamming countries was even slightly below the top five in August with 59.3%.

- Shifts also occurred in September in terms of spam topics: one noticeable trend was a dramatic increase in the share of particularly dangerous e-mails. Drive-by mailings came in third in the category of spam topics with 9.5%; fraudulent scam e-mails increased from 0.2% to 2.1%. Advertisements for pharmaceutical products remained the most important spam topic, but their share decreased from 56.3% to 46.9%. (see graphic)

- An evident trend for malware dissemination was the continued targeting of specific recipient groups such as recipients in a specific country. Campaigns targeting German users once again used Deutsche Post and Sparkassen banks, which had primarily been the target of phishing attacks in the past, as bait for disseminating Trojans.

- On an international scale, well-known and popular brands were used as a pretense for malware dissemination and drive-by attacks. In addition to social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook, that also included Microsoft as well as the US consumer protection organization Better Business Bureau.

You can find eleven's complete E-mail Security Report on the eleven website at www.eleven.de/eleven-security-reports-en.html.

eleven on Twitter: http://twitter.com/elevensecurity

eleven - E-mail security "Made in Germany"

eleven is a leading e-mail security provider based in Germany. Its unique eXpurgate technology offers a spam filter and e-mail categorization service that protects the user reliably against spam and phishing, detects potentially dangerous e-mail and can distinguish between individual messages and any kind of mass e-mail. eXpurgate also offers numerous virus protection options and a powerful e-mail firewall.

Over 45,000 companies of all sizes use eXpurgate to check and categorize more than a billion e-mail messages every day. Customers include Internet service providers and telecommunication carriers such as T-Online, O2, 1&1 and freenet as well as many well-known companies and public institutions, including Air Berlin, BMW, the Federal Association of German Banks, DATEV, the Free University of Berlin, Landesbank Berlin, RTL, SAP, ThyssenKrupp and Tobit Software AG. For more information, visit our website at: http://www.eleven.de.

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