NEW DELHI: India stands at sixth position in terms of spam distribution in February 2014, while China has been ranked number one.
According to Kaspersky Lab study, the countries that feature in the top 10 worldwide spam distribution list are: China (22.9 per cent), United States (19.1 per cent), South Korea (12.8 per cent), Russia (7 per cent), Taiwan (5.1 per cent), India (3.4 per cent), Vietnam (3 per cent), Ukraine (2.3 per cent), Romania (2 per cent) and Japan (1.8 per cent).
The study said that internet users in India should start taking digital security seriously. With the number of threat vectors increasing alarmingly along with the rise of cybercriminal activities, it is imperative that internet users in India protect themselves with genuine internet security or anti-virus software. “With regards to spam, the government should initiate spam laws that will deter spammers from making India their safe havens,” the study stated.
In February, social networking sites remained the most popular phishing target. Email services were second in the rating of targeted organisations, while financial and e-pay organisations came third with a slight increase of 1.1 percentage points in their share of phishing attacks.
Kaspersky Lab – South Asia MD Altaf Halde said, “Spammers are becoming more intelligent in masking their messages under the garb of offering something genuine to the recipients – be it Valentine’s Day discount or news about Ukraine, etc.”
Once unsuspecting users have clicked or downloaded the email attachment, Trojans are downloaded without the user’s knowledge, which are capable of stealing data or even holding the data at ransom (encrypting the data and demanding money to decrypt the data, like CryptoLocker).
February’s love-themed malicious spam was dominated by Trojans, as the cybercriminals’ mass mailings targeted credulous users with a Trojan-Dropper. The Trojan installs two malicious programs on the system – one is spyware that steals all document files (Docx, Xlsx, Pdf) from the computer and sends them to a specific mailbox; another is IRC-bot/worm called ShitStorm which can carry out DDoS attacks on websites and spread copies of itself via MSN and P2P services.
If recipients respond to these emails, their computer can easily become part of a botnet. In addition to Trojan spyware this month’s malicious spam included ransomware – a type of malware that blocks the user’s computer and then demands money to unblock it. The explicit photos also turned out to be malicious programs and among them was the Andromeda backdoor that allows cybercriminals to secretly control a compromised computer.
Messages allegedly sent on behalf of Facebook informed recipients that a lot had happened on friends’ news feeds since they last visited the site and they were prompted to open the attached archive to find out more. The archive contained the backdoor from the aforementioned Andromeda family.
Meanwhile, ‘Nigerian’ scammers could not pass up the opportunity to exploit the situation in Ukraine and the tragic events that followed in order to cheat users out of their money. They cited some familiar stories about unfortunate tourists in Kiev who had all their money stolen, followed by a request for financial assistance.
The proportion of spam in email traffic in February increased by 4.2 percentage points compared to the previous month and averaged 69.9 per cent – 1.2 percentage points less than in February 2013.
China (23 per cent) returned to the top of the rating, followed by the USA (19.1 per cent) and South Korea (12.8 per cent). Russia (7 per cent) ended the month in fourth place with an increase of 1.1 percentage points. Taiwan (5.1 per cent) dropped to fifth place after its share decreased by 1.1 percentage points compared to January.
India (3.4 per cent), Vietnam (3 per cent), Ukraine (2.3 per cent) and Romania (2 per cent) all experienced an average decline of 0.2 percentage points in the proportion of distributed spam.
In February, Japan’s share (1.8 per cent) fell 0.3 percentage points compared with the previous month, resulting in a drop of one place in our rating to tenth place. South Korea remained the leading source of spam sent to European users (48.6 per cent) in February.
Next came the USA whose contribution also increased by almost 3 percentage points, pushing it up one position to second place. In January, the USA was third with 5.3 per cent of all spam sent to European users followed by Taiwan (5.5 per cent), Russia (5 per cent), China (3.9 per cent), Ukraine (2.3 per cent) and Vietnam (1.8 per cent).
India rounded off the Top 10 with 1.6 per cent of spam sent to European users. The UK and Germany’s figures are slightly lower – 1.5 per cent and 1.4 per cent respectively.
Top three types of organisations targeted most frequently by phishers were: social networking sites (27.3 per cent), email services (19.34 per cent) and e-pay organisations (16.73 per cent).
Kaspersky Lab specialists also came across fraudulent notifications in February that claimed to be from the Malaysian HongLeong bank.