Adult phishing migrating to social networking sites says Symantec

The monthly spam and phishing analysis has also revealed that cybercriminals have picked up on the old ruse - dating from the early-to-mid-1990s when broadband was first being rolled out in the US and Europe - of offering pornography free of charge in return for user credentials.

As with the 1990s scam, Symantec says that, once the site has this data, users are redirected to a pornographic website that then leads to a malware-infected site, posing as an anti-virus portal.

On a topical note, the report also showed a high volume of Haiti-related spam and phishing as spammers used the tragic event for their benefit.

Unsurprisingly, says Symantec, Valentines-related spam was also high in January, however it failed to match the levels of seasonal spam seen in the run up to Christmas.

Delving into the report reveals that both spam and phishing categories doubled in percentage of all spam during January when compared to December 2009.

With `419 fraud' Nigerian spam becoming prevalent again, the total of scam and phishing messages was 21% of all spam, which Symantec says is the highest level recorded since the inception of this report

Interestingly, around 14% of phishing URLs were generated using phishing toolkits, a decrease of 50% from the previous month

The report also reveals that more than 95 web hosting services were used, accounting for 13% of all phishing attacks. This was a decrease of 12% in total web hosted URLs when compared to the previous month.

One piece of good news from the report is that, following the surge in China-originating spam and malware of last year, the recent moves by the Chinese government to tighten the rules on registering Chinese domains by non-Chinese companies appears to be paying off.

Symantec's report notes that this has had the effect of reducing spam using URLs with a .cn suffix by half.

Despite this, the .com suffix continues to be the most popular, as it is now used in 68.6% of spam URLs, with around a quarter of all spam arriving via US-based hosts.

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