May saw overall malware levels drop, though malware and phishing attackers were up slightly, say experts.
Kaspersky Lab researchers said that on the month recorded spam volumes were down 2.5 percentage points overall as some 69.7 percent of email was detected as spam. China was named as the most popular origin for spam messages, followed by the US and Russia.
While spam levels were down, researchers found that both phishing and malware activity were up slightly over the month. Researchers reported that phony notification messages were an increasingly popular target for attackers looking to infect systems via email.
The notification attacks, which deliver the malware payload as an attached file or forward users to attack sites, often claim to be from reputable firms and government agencies. Posing as an official notice, the attacks instruct users to open the attached file or link under threat of fine or account loss.
Kaspersky Lab said that Microsoft has emerged as a favourite lure for online attackers. The messages spotted in one widespread phishing attack claim to be from the Redmond giant and warn users that unless they update their systems accounts would be suspended. A link in the message then redirected users to a phishing site.
With attackers looking to spoof legitimate brands, researchers are advising users to be wary of links and attachments in unsolicited emails. Kaspersky Lab head of content analysis Darya Gudkova said that users should pay close attention to URLs in links and contact customer service of the purported sending company if they are unsure about a notification.
“Remember that official mailings never ask customers to enter and confirm personal or banking information via links contained in emails. Nor do they threaten to block customer accounts,” Gudkova said.
“Never click on a link if your antivirus program or a browser has blocked it. Pay close attention to the links in the message.”
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