Hijacked newsletter spam the latest trend: Commtouch

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Hijacked newsletter spam is the latest spam trend, according to antispam firm Commtouch's Spam Trends Report for the first quarter of 2007.

Newsletter spam aims to evade anti-spam filters by disguising itself as a legitimate form of mass distributed message. Spammers take on the form of a popular e-mail newsletter and insert a spam image at the beginning of the message. This trick gets the malevolent message past many anti-spam filters by cloaking itself as legitimate -email newsletter.

"Hijacked newsletter spam is yet another technique developed to evade traditional anti-spam solutions," said Amir Lev, president and chief technical officer of Commtouch, Sunnyvale, CA. "Fighting spam on a trick-per-trick basis is futile. The spammer innovation cycle is so fast and sophisticated. As soon as traditional anti-spam solutions come up with a way to block the latest trick, the spammers have already thought of something new."

The study analyzes billions of messages globally each week. It found that 85 percent to 90 percent of all e-mail is spam. Global spam rates temporarily dropped a few percentage points after the holiday season. They climbed back to the 85-90 range by the end of the quarter.

In addition, zombies are detected in more than 100 countries, having spread to almost every corner of the globe. Top spam categories include sexual enhancers and stock pump-and-dump scams.

"Massive botnets continue to be the force behind most global spam," Mr. Lev said. "Solutions that attempt to detect spam by scanning individual messages for content are inundated by the spam floods the botnets are generating. Effective protection against spam requires dynamic blocking at the network perimeter based on the reputation of the sender."

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