World Cup Spam Continues to Prove Popular

Internet security expert Symantec has revealed that the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa has continued to provide a bonanza for spammers and cyber-criminals.

In its monthly MessageLabs Intelligence report, Symantec said that the sporting extravaganza was not only proving popular for propagating spam linked to the event, but was also useful to spammers for slipping messages that were not related to the World Cup through spam filters.

Long before the World Cup began on 11 June, online security analysts had warned that the tournament would be a massive attraction for spam, malware and phishing attempts. This month Symantec confirmed that this had all come to pass, including spam messages for pharmaceutical companies that were making sure to include “World Cup” in their subject headings.

The report said: “While spammers often continue to re-send the same spam campaigns, they include the latest news headlines either in the subject line or somewhere in the body to grab the attention of the recipient and increase the likelihood of the message being opened. Such campaigns tend be large in volume, and the headlines are almost certainly gathered automatically, using highly specialized spam tools that collect the latest news headlines from topical websites across the internet.”

The news was not all negative, however. Although the amount of spam related to the World Cup had increased, Symantec said that as a whole the level of spam fell by 0.9 per cent during the course of May.

The country which had propagated the most spam was Hungary, which saw 94 per cent of all emails originating from spammers, whereas in the UK the figure was 88 per cent.

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