16 Nov 2010

Malware crooks ally to send spam

According to an internet security firm, malicious spam is on the rise. Even more worrisome is that the increase appears to be the result of spammers and cyber criminals working together to spread infections.

According to a recent report by the firm, spammers are now linking in “partner programs” that specialize in malware. As a result, 4.6 percent of all spam messages in the third quarter of 2010 contained malware, an increase from 1.9 percent in the second quarter.

“The increase in the volume and quality of mass malicious mailings confirms that spammers and cyber criminals have started acting in unison to create complex infection strategies,” said Darya Gudkova, head of content analysis and research at the firm. “These include connecting a victim computer to a botnet, sending out spam, stealing personal information and so on.”

The report also shows that the most common spam threats come from online networking and messaging sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as online stores. Malicious links on these sites cause users to download the Bredolab botnet.

The continued presence of Bredolab shows how difficult it can be to reign in cyber crime. Dutch authorities recently arrested the botnet’s mastermind and shut down 143 of its servers. The arrest was credited with causing a significant drop in spam.