‫ Summary of Symantec Intelligence Report: February 2013

Date: 2013-03-17
February edition of the Symantec Intelligence report provides the latest analysis of cyber security threats, trends and insights from the Symantec Intelligence team concerning malware, spam, and other potentially harmful business risks. The data used to compile the analysis for this report includes data from January through February 2013.
Spam Analysis
In February, the global ratio of spam in email traffic rose by 1.8 percentage points since January, to 65.9 percent (1 in 1.56 emails). This follows the continuing trend of global spam levels diminishing gradually since the latter part of 2011.  
The proportion of spam exploiting URLs in the .com top-level domain decreased in February, as highlighted in the table below. This is in line with a slight increase in all other top-level domains this month.
Spam Attack Vectors
February highlights the decrease in spam emails resulting in NDRs (spam related non-delivery reports). In these cases, the recipient email addresses are invalid or bounced by their service provider. The proportion of spam that contained a malicious attachment or link increase, with periodic spikes of spam activity during the period, as shown in the chart below.
NDR spam, as shown in the chart above, is often as a result of widespread dictionary attacks during spam campaigns, where spammers make use of databases containing first and last names and combine them to generate random email addresses. A higher-level of activity is indicative of spammers that are seeking to build their distribution lists by ignoring the invalid recipient emails in the bounce-backs. The list can then be used for more targeted spam attacks containing malicious attachments or links. This might indicate a pattern followed by spammers in harvesting the email addresses for some months and using those addresses for targeted attacks in other months.
Phishing Analysis
In February, the global phishing rate decreased by 0.018 percentage points, taking the global average rate to one in 466.3 emails (0.214 percent) that comprised some form of phishing attack.
The overall phishing increased by about 19 percent this month. Unique domains increased by about 8 percent as compared to the previous month. Phishing websites that used automated toolkits increased by 33 percent. Phishing websites with IP domains (for e.g. domains like increased by about 28 percent. Webhosting services comprised of 5 percent of all phishing, an increase of 55 percent from the previous month. The number of non-English phishing sites decreased by 56 percent. Among non-English phishing sites, Portuguese, French and German were highest in January.
Email-borne Threats
The global ratio of email-borne viruses in email traffic was one in 408.2 emails (0.25 percent) in February, a decrease of 0.11 percentage points since January.
In February, 23.0 percent of email-borne malware contained links to malicious websites, 10.5 percentage points lower than January.
Tactics of Phishing Distribution
Organizations Spoofed in Phishing Attacks, by Industry
Web-based Malware Threats
In February, Symantec Intelligence identified an average of 1,530 websites each day harboring malware and other potentially unwanted programs including spyware and adware; a decrease of 32.2 percent since January. This reflects the rate at which websites are being compromised or created for the purpose of spreading malicious content. Often this number is higher when Web-based malware is in circulation for a longer period of time to widen its potential spread and increase its longevity.
As detection for Web-based malware increases, the number of new websites blocked decreases and the proportion of new malware begins to rise, but initially on fewer websites. Further analysis reveals that 37.2 percent of all malicious domains blocked were new in February; a decrease of 2.3 percentage points compared with January. Additionally, 11.5 percent of all Web-based malware blocked was new in February; a decrease of 0.5 percentage points since January.   


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