Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


03:30 PM
Connect Directly

Trump Winning Spam Race By Huge Margin

Republican Presidential contender's name appears nearly 170 times more often in spam email subject lines than Clinton's over last two months.

One race in which Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump appears to be handily trouncing rival Hillary Clinton is in the number of election-themed spam messages featuring his name.

In June and July, e-mail lures with the word “trump” in the subject header appeared in nearly 170 times as many messages as those with the word “clinton”, an analysis of election-themed spam by security vendor Proofpoint has shown.

Proofpoint scanned the subject lines in spam messages directed at its customer base in the last two months and observed what it described as a disproportionate number of emails featuring the controversial Republican nominee’s name. The emails represented a mix of text-based spam lures with embedded links and credential phishing attempts.

In June, Trump’s name appeared 270 times more often than Clinton’s name in spam email headers.A lot of the disproportionality had to do with two major Trump-themed spam campaigns that were launched in June, Proofpoint said.

In July, the difference was less stark with Trump-themed spam messages appearing a mere 67 times more often than email lures with Clinton’s name. When averaged across the two months, Trump’s name appeared 170 times more often as his Democratic rival’s in email subject lines.

Overall, the volume of election-themed spam messages per day fell sharply in July compared to the previous month as the effect of the two major Trump campaigns that were launched in June, faded out, Proofpoint said.  But even with the drop-off, the median number of spam messages per day was about 37 percent higher than usual in July.

That number “is more in line with our expectations that attackers would seek to make the most of public attention around the Democratic and Republican conventions,” the company said in its alert.

The spam messages that Proofpoint intercepted over the two months included both text-based messages and messages with graphics and images embedded in them. Many of the messages purported to contain some surprising news about either the election in general or about Trump in particular in an attempt to get users to click on links or take some other action. 

The sending address was usually spoofed to make it appear like the email originated from CNN, Fox or other legitimate news organization.

Emails with “Get rich/smart like Trump” messages were another popular theme that Proofpoint said it uncovered in the last two months.

In addition, the vendor said it discovered some election-themed attempts at credential phishing. As one example, it pointed to an email campaign that attempted to get recipients to verify their identities using their Gmail logins so they could ostensibly participate in an election related survey.

The uptick in spam over the last couple of months is by no means surprising.  Over the past several years, spammers have shown a penchant for taking advantage of major news events—such as the earthquake in Nepal last year—to try and lure credulous users into initiating action they normally wouldn’t. 

The most recent example is the Rio Olympics. Researchers from Kaspersky Lab recently reported seeing a spike in Olympics-themed email as well as scams involving the sales of fake tickets to the games.

Related content:




Jai Vijayan is a seasoned technology reporter with over 20 years of experience in IT trade journalism. He was most recently a Senior Editor at Computerworld, where he covered information security and data privacy issues for the publication. Over the course of his 20-year ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
User Rank: Apprentice
8/12/2016 | 8:23:46 AM
Re: Gamed the system
"The uptick in spam over the last couple of months is by no means surprising.  Over the past several years, spammers have shown a penchant for taking advantage of major news events"


@Whoopty, this goes hand in hand with what you're saying.  Trump is one of the most polarizing candidates we've had in a very long time.  He gives a lot of people good reason to hate him and from what I've seen he's unapologetic in that regard.  On the other hand, it seems like a lot of people are drawn to his message and feel that he's the anti-politician.  I argue that he's actually all politician, he's watching the voters and playing to them in a very animated manner, so much for walk softly and carry a big stick.

User Rank: Ninja
8/12/2016 | 7:47:08 AM
Gamed the system
That's what's so fascinating about this election: Trump has gamed the system. Some how, he's managed to get himself in a prominent enough position to be considered for leadership and his manipulation of the media through sensational statements has been masterful.

He says controversial things that would bury a traditional politician, but because he's not trying to appeal to classic voters, it doesn't make any difference and the publicity he gains from all the 'scandalous' coverage, is what keeps his audience growing. 
User Rank: Apprentice
8/11/2016 | 5:38:45 PM
Get on the Trump Train.
I enjoyed your article. If you would like to get on the Trump Train then come join us at The_Donald on Reddit.
10 Ways to Keep a Rogue RasPi From Wrecking Your Network
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  7/10/2019
The Security of Cloud Applications
Hillel Solow, CTO and Co-founder, Protego,  7/11/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Building and Managing an IT Security Operations Program
As cyber threats grow, many organizations are building security operations centers (SOCs) to improve their defenses. In this Tech Digest you will learn tips on how to get the most out of a SOC in your organization - and what to do if you can't afford to build one.
Flash Poll
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
Your enterprise's cyber risk may depend upon the relationship between the IT team and the security team. Heres some insight on what's working and what isn't in the data center.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-15
A Reflected Cross-site Scripting (XSS) vulnerability exists in Apache Roller. Roller's Math Comment Authenticator did not property sanitize user input and could be exploited to perform Reflected Cross Site Scripting (XSS). The mitigation for this vulnerability is to upgrade to the latest version of ...
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-15
A CWE-119 Buffer Errors vulnerability exists in Modicon M580 CPU - BMEP582040, all versions before V2.90, and Modicon Ethernet Module BMENOC0301, all versions before V2.16, which could cause denial of service on the FTP service of the controller or the Ethernet BMENOC module when it receives a FTP C...
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-15
A Use After Free: CWE-416 vulnerability exists in Zelio Soft 2, V5.2 and earlier, which could cause remote code execution when opening a specially crafted Zelio Soft 2 project file.
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-15
A CWE-94: Code Injection vulnerability exists in ProClima (all versions prior to version 8.0.0) which could allow an unauthenticated, remote attacker to execute arbitrary code on the targeted system in all versions of ProClima prior to version 8.0.0.
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-15
A CWE-119: Buffer Errors vulnerability exists in ProClima (all versions prior to version 8.0.0) which allows an unauthenticated, remote attacker to execute arbitrary code on the targeted system in all versions of ProClima prior to version 8.0.0.