The latest report on spam lets us know just how much we need spam filters

If there was any question in our minds as to the value of our spam filters, we got a look at the Spam Report from Kaspersky Labs for Q1 2013. Yeah, we definitely preferred it when spam was just a canned meat that, for reasons we are not at all certain about, sells really well in Hawaii.

According to the report from Kaspersky Labs, spam traffic grew slightly in the first quarter of 2013, by just .53 percentage points. That’s the bad news. The worse news is the amount of unsolicited correspondence in email traffic now averages 66.55%. That’s right, two-thirds of all email is spam. Yikes!

What’s more, the techniques of these spammers continue to get more sophisticated. According to Kaspersky, they are returning to an old technique of filling in their spammy emails with random pieces of text in a light gray font against a gray background. The intent is to confuse content filters into thinking “Oh, newsletter,” as opposed to what they should be thinking, i.e. “Oh, evil piece of mail that need never see the light of day.”

The first quarter was particularly good for this spamming technique, because the text they used was of major news reports. With the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and the ascension of Pope Francis, as well as the death of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, there was plenty of news to copy. Spammers capitalized on this by imitating BBC or CNN news reports, figuring that not only would it make it past spam filters, but it would also catch the eye of recipients, encouraging them to click through to see more.

That clicking has gotten a lot more sophisticated as well. By now, we all know (or should know, at least) that a BBC article will not include a link that goes to “www.Evil-Spam-Lord/This_will_infect_your_machine” and thus we won’t click it. Spammers, then, are using Yahoo’s URL shortening service to get a new link, and then filter that through Google Translate. By using two legal methods to disguise their link, it makes the links in the mass mailing unique (helping it to avoid filters) and it adds some “credibility” to the links. “Oh, Google, it must be a good link.”

With such sophistication in mind, Tatyana Shcherbakova, Senior Spam Analyst (and isn’t that the best job title ever) cautioned:
“Many emails contain links to malicious programs, including exploits. We would like once again to remind users not to click the links in emails, even if the sender appears to be someone you know. It is much safer to enter the address in the browser manually. ”

If you have concerns about the state of your spam filters, or have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

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