Report: Malicious Spam, Social Engineering Attacks Rising

M86 Security, a provider of Web and messaging security products, recently unveiled its latest Security Labs Report, detailing a massive increase in spam volumes and recent vulnerabilities in applications including Adobe products and attacks via social networking sites such as Twitter.

M86 security researchers analyze more than seven million distinct email messages every day looking for patterns and emerging trends. By correlating this data with Web exploit and vulnerability research, M86 achieves a comprehensive vantage point on evolving Internet threats and publishes a bi-annual report with these findings. The latest report is based on the second half of 2009.

The report highlights a surge in attacks through social networking sites such as Twitter because of the increased use of shortened URLs. Shortened URLs have become a favorite tool of attackers because not only do they make it easier to obscure malicious links, but they also exploit end users' trust through social engineering.

The majority of malicious links observed by the M86 team on services such as Twitter and Facebook abuse shortened URLs and similar malicious links have also been observed in spam messages.

Zero-Day application vulnerabilities such as those within the Internet Explorer and Adobe products are becoming just as prevalent as those seen in the operating systems themselves as hackers take advantage of such application vulnerabilities. Recent examples from the Security Labs Report include an increase in the use of malicious PDF files targeting Adobe products.

Spam remains a significant threat to businesses and government organizations: not only does spam consume valuable network resources; it remains a popular conduit for the distribution of malware, phishing and other scams by cyber criminals. The new Security Labs Report notes that the volume of malicious spam has dramatically increased; reaching 3 billion messages per day, compared to 600 million messages per day in the first half of 2009.

The vast majority of spam is sent via Botnets of infected computers. These networks of compromised computers, sometimes known as zombies, are revenue-generating businesses for organized, professional criminals. The M86 Security Labs Report names the major spam Botnets and reveals that 78 percent of all spam during the last six months of 2009 originates from just five of the Botnets.

To download the complete version of the latest M86 Security Labs Report, visit http://www.m86security.com/labs/resources.asp.

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