Spam ‘Once Again the Most Popular Choice for Sending Out Malware’

Forty years after the first spam email, it is still the most common method of spreading malware, according to new research released today by global cybersecurity company F-Secure.

Online criminals have gotten savvier, but they still rely on the same techniques they have been using for decades: spewing out massive numbers of emails in order to snare a tiny number of users.

“Email spam is once again the most popular choice for sending out malware,” says Päivi Tynninen, threat intelligence researcher at F-Secure. “Of the spam samples we’ve seen over spring of 2018, 46 percent are dating scams, 23 percent are emails with malicious attachments, and 31 percent contain links to malicious websites.”

If the spam comes from a known individual, the probability of the recipient opening it increases by 12 percent. Having a subject line free from errors improves spam’s success rate by 4.5 percent.

“Spam is becoming an increasingly successful attack vector, with click rates rising from 13.4 percent in the second half of 2017 to 14.2 percent in 2018,” says Adam Sheehan, behavioral science lead at MWR InfoSecurity. With technology so readily available, criminals are adapting to the new opportunities and challenges are getting harder to thwart.

Kalyna White is the STEM Ambassador to the Board of Directors for Women in Homeland Security. She is the founder of LABUkraine, a non-profit organization that builds computer labs for orphans in Ukraine. Since 2011 she has worked with Women in Homeland Security to encourage middle and high school student to pursue STEM careers by organizing and supporting field trips to STEM missions throughout the homeland security enterprise.

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