Economy, Election Inspire Spam

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The economy and the U.S. presidential election played a big role in spam messages last month, according to the State of Spam report from security software company Symantec.

The recent economic bailout package and interest rate cuts in the United States have opened the door for spammers to step up their attacks.

In October, Symantec observed a spam attack that contained a message claiming to come from US treasury secretary, Henry Paulson.

The message suggested that Paulson had been instructed by the United Nations to "wire a sum of $1m into your bank account in a legal way." However, in order to claim the money the recipient was asked to provide personal details.

'Barackumentary'

With the U.S. presidential election so prominent during October, it is no surprise that spammers used election content in their campaigns, the report stated.

One election-related spam attack observed in October has been dubbed by spammers as a "Barackumentary", the report added. Spammers offered a free DVD about Barack Obama. However, in order to receive this 'free' video, recipients were asked to provide personal credit card details to the sender.

Symantec also continued to see presidential gift card spam. Recipients were asked to complete a survey on the election with the promise of receiving a free gift card. This gift card spam attack has been used to harvest personal information.

In general, spam levels averaged in 76.4 percent of all e-mail messages last month. This spam level represents a year-on-year increase of nearly six per cent since October 2007, but a decrease since the 80 percent level in August this year, states the report.

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