GLOBAL INTEREST in the Wikileaks revelations saw spammers exploit its keywords to fool spam filters and other security measures throughout December, according to an insecurity firm.
Kaspersky Labs, the Russian security specialists, discovered a number of mass-mailings - emails sent out to a large number of users - that either asked users to spread the Wikileaks message as well as its documents or used its name in background noise texts, a collection of apparent legitimate content, to bypass spam filters.
"Spam is usually dominated by the Christmas and New Year holiday theme in December, but in 2010 it had to share the limelight with WikiLeaks, which once again underlines just how serious the scandal surrounding the website was at the end of the year," said Maria Namestnikova, senior spam analyst at Kaspersky Labs.
Wikileaks was not the only trend during the month of December, and despite the flood of messages that related to it, Kaspersky found that the volume of spam fell as a whole.
This, it explained, might have been the result of work done towards shutting down botnets, including the Mega-D zombie network, the author of which is facing criminal proceedings in the US.
The amount of spam coming out of Western Europe fell by a considerable amount, according to Kaspersky, and the UK saw one of the biggest declines. Here the security firm found that just 4.3 per cent of all spam was coming from the UK, 2.2 per cent from France and 1.8 per cent from Germany.
The worst offenders were India, which accounted for 10 per cent of spam volume, and Russia. The same two countries also sent the most malware to email users, Kaspersky Labs said.
Namestnikova added that although there was a decline in spam, it is important to strengthen the legislative measures against it, as this will likely lead to longer term reductions. µ
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