Englewood (CO) – Spammers have increased their activities in 2008, adjusted their strategy and apparently are increasingly successful at getting more and more spam into email inboxes. Security firm MX Logic found that, other than in previous years, the amount of spam has not come down since the holidays, indicating that we could see a new surge in spam attacks this year.
MX Logic says that spam volumes typically decrease by about 30% from Christmas peaks in the first few months during a new year. However, according to the security firm, there is a different trend this year, with spam levels holding steady and even rising. This especially applies to phishing emails, which doubled between January and February of this year and image spam increasing by 60% during the same time frame. Overall spam levels were estimated by the company at about 88% as of this morning.
MX Logic mentioned that relatively new strategies such as “social” spam, which includes update notices and phony Google search results, are gaining popularity among spammers, but long known tactics such as drive-by-pharming and master boot record (MBR) rootkit attacks are reemerging.
The security firm also said that MBR rootkits are gaining traction again. Rootkit viruses launch when a computer's BIOS activates its master boot code before the operating system, according to Sam Masiello, director of threat management at MX Logic. Usually rootkits are attached to Windows device drivers. This new rootkit type is difficult to remove, as they remain on the PC even if the operating system is reinstalled. MX Logic recommends affected users to download a Microsoft utility called "fixmbr" to restore the MBR and remove such rootkits.