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Commtouch reports that blended attack vectors remain a major threat

The internet security specialist says that its researchers have tracked a few unusual cases this quarter, such as political campaign messages that lead to pharmacy spam and the `Here You Have' worm, which hijacked people's Outlook contact files.

Delving into the report reveals that the use of malicious HTML email attachments increased significantly in the third quarter, with the attachments displaying phishing pages on the user's local computer or redirecting users to sites hosting malware or spam products.

During the third quarter, the internet security consultancy reported that Amazon, LinkedIn, Paypal and other major brands were used by spammers to inspire action by consumers.

The report also tracked the unusual bedfellows of a pharmacy spam campaign based on solidarity with several European politicians and celebrities.

On the spam front, the study noted that spam levels averaged 88% of all email traffic throughout the quarter, peaking at over 95% in mid-September, compared with an average of 80% of all mail being tracked as spam during the second quarter of the year.

Interestingly, Commtouch reports that approximately 339 000 zombies were activated daily – almost 30 000 more per day than in the previous quarter.

Commenting on the figures, Asaf Greiner, the firm's vice president, said that the increased use of HTML attachments shows how prominent the multi-stage attack vector has become.

"The blended nature of malicious activity further highlights the need for an integrated security offering that can block spam and malware emails, prevent users from visiting malicious Web sites and delete malware files and scripts", he noted.

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