January 10, 2011

Spam Wars: Return Of The Spam

Carl Leonard Principal Security Analyst

With the end of the Christmas and New Year periods, Websense has seen the first notable spike in the number of spam messages processed by our Hosted Email Security services.  Could this spike indicate an upturn toward pre-November 2010 spam levels, or alternatively could it be just a blip in the spam universe? 

Recently we spoke with several news agencies discussing the decline in spam volumes during the Christmas period and December 2010.  You can familiarize yourself with that story by looking at the article here on the BBC

Today we noticed a spike in activity starting just after midnight on Monday morning UK time.  As long as there is profit in spam, global spam senders are not going to go away any time soon.  

This spike is evident in the graph below which charts messages processed per second over the last 3 weeks:

Over the last 6 months the sharp decrease over the Christmas period is even more apparent:


The spike in spam today appears to be attributable to medical spam using Russian domains that we have seen used before.  This spam has a subject like "<email address> VIAGRA Official <random number>%"


Example subjects in malicious emails we are seeing today come from spam senders known to our service and include subjects such as:

    * Your friend invited you to Twitter!
    * You have received A Hallmark E-Card!
    * You have got a new message on Facebook!
    * Shipping update for your Amazon.com order


We will continue to monitor the situation and as usual, Websense customers are protected against the Return Of The Spam using ACE, our Advanced Classification Engine technology.

Carl Leonard

Principal Security Analyst

Carl Leonard is a Principal Security Analyst within Forcepoint X-Labs. He is responsible for enhancing threat protection and threat monitoring technologies at Forcepoint, in collaboration with the company’s global Labs teams. Focusing on protecting companies against the latest cyberattacks that...

Read more articles by Carl Leonard

About Forcepoint

Forcepoint is the leading user and data protection cybersecurity company, entrusted to safeguard organizations while driving digital transformation and growth. Our solutions adapt in real-time to how people interact with data, providing secure access while enabling employees to create value.