Turbulent financial markets have catalysed a surge in stock pump and dump spam, according to security vendor, Symantec.
Spammers send out large amounts of spam relating to certain “pink sheets” stocks in an attempt to “pump” the value of these stocks before “dumping” them at a profit.
The tactic is noted in the in the August 2011 Symantec Intelligence Report.
In such a scam, spammers support some stocks to amplify the price as much as possible and sell them before their valuation crashes.
Symantec.Cloud A/NZ principal systems engineer, Adrian Covich, said scammers know that people want to lower risk by capitalising in stocks that will profit from the market upheaval.
“However, this desire to invest safely could be leading them straight into the hands of opportunistic spammers, who stand to make substantial profits with well executed pump and dump tactics,” he said.
The report also found the number of new boot time malware (MBR) threats within the first seven months of 2011 was comparable to that of the previous three years.
An MBR is an area of the hard disk (usually the first sector) used by a computer to carry out start-up operations.
Unlike attack toolkits, which allow even non-technical criminals to perform cybercrime, MBR attacks enable deep infection and control of computers, making them appealing to malware creators.
While global spam levels were lower in August compared to the previous month, phishing activity increased – with many coming from attacks related to major brand names.
“Australian spam rates fell in August, in accordance with global spam trends. Additionally, the virus rate in Australia fell to one in 797, significantly lower than the global virus rate of one in 203.3,” Covich stated.
The report also noted:
- The global ratio of spam in email traffic declined to 75.9 per cent in August, a decrease of 1.9 per cent when compared with July.
- One in 319.3 emails comprised some form of phishing attack in August, an increase of 0.01 per cent since July.
- The global ratio of email-borne viruses in email traffic was 0.49 per cent in August, an increase of 0.14 percentage points since July.
- In August, an average of 3441 websites each day were identified containing malware and other unwanted programs including spyware and adware, a decrease of 49.4 per cent since July
- The most frequently blocked malware for the last month was W32.Ramnit!html. Alternatives of the Ramnit worm accounted for 15.8 per cent of all malicious software blocked by endpoint protection technology in August.