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Spam trends

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Tuesday March 3, 2009 )

MessageLabs recently released their monthly Intelligence report outlining some of the latest email threat trends for February 2009. It certainly seems the spammers aren’t giving up and still have a few tricks up their sleeve.

According to the report, spam made up over 73% of all email during February. That sounds shocking, but it’s actually an improvement over January. It really makes you wonder how much bandwidth spam is taking up at any given time.

One in 304.9 emails in February contained malware (a decrease of 0.06% since January) and one in 190.4 emails comprised a phishing attack (an increase of 0.27% since January).

Of particular interest was a trick that spammers latched onto during February. Instead of trying to add a spam domain URL or redirect link into their blurbs that would likely be filtered faster than you can say “cheap watches”, they used search engine query strings like so:

When you run the query, nothing appears except for a link to the site as the domain would be one not yet indexed by Yahoo. The note also contained an instruction to “Click on link after ‘Go Directly To’” once on the search results page.

This sort of query URL *was* getting through spam filters as I guess it would appear to the filter algorithm to be a non-spam site (being Yahoo), but I believe that many anti-spam vendors have now updated their software to weed it out.

Spammers are pretty clever at times.. if only they’d use their power for good. They’ve sure made the job of legitimate email marketing so much tougher and long gone are the days of being totally outraged when one piece of spam hit our inboxes a day.


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