The Deadly Duo: Spam and Viruses, August 2005

Spammers and scammers were quick to pick up on the devastation of Hurricane Katrina to capture recipients’ interests, rounding out the month of August.

Some of the Katrina-titled email messages were phishing (define) attempts masquerading as charitable organizations. However, Commtouch analyzed incoming messages during a five-hour monitoring experiment and found many examples simply added “Katrina” to the subject line.

In August, Commtouch analyzed over 1.5 billion spam messages. The largest portion, 29.15 percent, of spam intercepted by the firm was pharmaceutical related. The finance-related spam volume reached 20.95 percent, and sex enhancers amounted to 14.19 percent of spam analyzed by the security firm.


Most Received Spam Type by Consumer and Corporate Users August 2005
Click on graphic to view chart

A recent study by Mirapoint finds differences in spam between business and personal accounts. Corporate users report a higher volume of pharmaceutical spam, while consumers say they receive more financing offers. Pharmaceuticals accounted for the second highest spam volume for personal users, and finance was second for corporate users. Porn-related spam was third highest for both groups.

In an almost whimsical software pitch, Clearswift noted a trend in spam promising “the superhero within” in August. Additional spam promising to deliver “all of your heart’s desires… automatically” was also prevalent in August. Clearswift attributed the superhero spam pitches to the popularity of new superhero movies over the summer.


Spam Categorization Breakdown August 2005
Click on graphic to view chart

Clearswift’s Spam Index also registered an increase of gambling spam. The category grew by more than 1,500 percent. The increase may be due to heightened interest in gambling and the World Series of Poker in July.

There were fewer phishing attempts in August, according to Postini. Of the 14 billion email messages processed by the firm, 1.8 million were identified as phishing attacks, a 90 percent decrease from July’s volume.

Virus attacks also decreased for the second month in a row. Postini noted a 27 percent drop in infected email messages compared to July. The actual viruses did not change dramatically from July to August. Mytob maintained the highest circulation volume, with ebscam and backdoor-ceb reemerging on the 9 and 10 spots of the top 10.


Top Viruses, August 2005
Virus Quantity Detected
mytob 27,405,821
netsky 8,487,939
bagle 4,492,758
mime 4,132,876
mydoom 1,317,800
zafi 1,004,459
lovgate 768,987
bankfraud 460,818
ebscam 324,110
backdoor–ceb 191,899
Source: Postini, 2005

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