Spammers targeted consumers’ holiday spirit in December: Symantec report

Capitalizing on holiday spirit, spammers changed their techniques for the holidays by inserting seasonal oriented keywords into URLs, subject lines, and embedded images within their messages, according to Symantec’s January State of Spam report.

According to the report, which measured spam levels for December 2007, spam accounted for 75% of all e-mail, increasing to 83% in the last few days leading up to the holiday season. The report estimated that 93 million spam messages focused on the holiday season during December.

Spam during the holiday season can hurt legitimate marketers who are also vying for consumer attention, because it harms consumer trust in the medium.

According to the report, gift cards, electronics, replica products, and pharmaceuticals were hot items being promoted in these spam messages. Gift cards and electronics were some of the top selling items offered by legitimate marketers, again showing the threat that spammers have on legitimate businesses by risking the quality of the channel.

The report also found that gift cards promised in exchange for presidential poll responses, were popular among spammers. In addition, the use of blogs within spam has also grown, particularly in China, where simplified character sets are common.

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