Don’t click on suspicious links from unknown sources. We know you know, but the rise of link shortening services like bit.ly make it next to impossible to know where you’re being directed half the time, especially on Twitter. Unfortunately, spammers have caught on to the fact (C’mon, it was only a matter of time). Legitimate link shorteners have been doing a good job of eliminating malicious links, but b new report says that a gang of spammers have set up 87 URL shortening sites and are using them to flood inboxes around the world with junk.
If you noticed your spam folder was a bit lighter this holiday season you aren’t alone, according to the BBC the global level of email spam has fallen dramatically over the past few months. According to a new report, the volume of unsolicited emails has been in a steady decline since August, and December results are the lowest on records. A steady decline is what we like to hear, but just how much you ask?
Based on numbers out of Symantec the amount of spam messages has dropped from close to 250 billion in late July, to slightly under 50 billion in December. Some of the decreases can be attributed to recent arrests, and a growing sense of awareness around the dangers of spam, but researchers still don’t fully understand why the decline has been so steep. One of the most active botnets for example which has typically been responsible for as much as 48% of all global spam leveled off at just 0.5%.
Spammers might just be regrouping for a massive new campaign, so enjoy the peace and quiet while it lasts.
Russia may be popular for its Vodka and caviar, but its stock among the tech savvy has been going down rapidly ever since it was revealed that they are also the No. 1 source of spam in the world. Interestingly enough however this might be set to change with the apprehension of 23-year-old Oleg Nikolaenko who has been accused of spearheading operations responsible for sending over 10 billion spam emails per day.
Nikolaenko’s botnet has been referred to in legal documents as Mega-D, a network of computers that is estimated to be composed of over half a million machines. His advertising efforts have primarily been focused on Rolex counterfeits and herbal remedies, but the true scope of his operations likely won’t be fully understood until the authorities have time to review all the evidence.
According to Valleywag Nikolaenko is facing a fine of up to $250,000 and three years in prison, though a careful examination of the facts would suggest that this might be little more than a slap on the wrist. According to one of Nikolaenko’s clients he alone spent more than 2 million on spam advertising, an admission that would suggest to us that Oleg might just have a cozy little nest egg to retire on when he emerges from prison.
Federal authorities believe they have in custody one of the most active spammers in the world. Oleg Y. Nikolaenko, a 23-year-old from Moscow, stands accused of spearheading a global spamming network that on some days accounted for 33 percent of unwanted mails, according to Yahoo News.
Nikolaenko will be arraigned today in federal court in Milwaukee where he is to be charged with running afoul of the CAN-SPAM act. In order to bring about that charge, a person must be accused of intentionally falsifying header information in commercial emails and sending at least 2,500 spam messages a day.
Authorities believe Nikolaenko's spam network was sending up to 10 billion messages every day, far more than the minimum requirement for the CAN-SPAM act. If convicted, he faces a maximum three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
One of the few things more annoying than having to contend with hundreds, if not thousands of vuvuzelas while trying to watch a World Cup game is putting up with spam. And like the vuvuzela, the World Cup seems to be drawing out these annoyances, with MessageLabs estimating that 25 percent of global spam is related to the event.
"Right now, spammers are reliant on the massive wave of excitement and expectation that typically surrounds an event like the FIFA World Cup," said MessageLabs Intelligence Senior Analyst, Paul Wood. "Riding this wave, spammers get the attention of their victims by offering products for sale or enticing them to click on a link. It is not uncommon for the event to appear in the subject line of an email but for the body of the same email to be completely unrelated."
With the U.S. out of contention, England falling in controversial fashion, and the World Cup as a whole soon coming to an end, this probably won't be the case for very long, but that doesn't mean there will be a sudden reduction in spam. According to the report, nearly nine out of 10 emails are now spam, and in the U.S., exactly 90 percent of email is spam. Engineering is the highest sector for spamming at 94 percent, while Education is a close second at 89.9 percent followed by Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals at 89.7 percent.
Alan Ralsky, a West Bloomfield, Michigan native, has pleaded guilty to allegations of wire and mail frauds, money laundering, and of violating the CAN-SPAM Act. As a result, Raslky faces up to 7 years in prison.
"Alan Ralsky was at one time the world's most notorious illegal spammer," said U.S. Attorney Terrence Berg. "Today Ralsky, his son-in-law Scott Bradley, and three of their co-conspirators stand convicted for their roles in running an international spamming operation that sent billions of illegal email advertisements to pump up Chinese 'penny' stocks and then reap profits by using trades in these same stocks while others bought at the inflated price."
In addition to duping recipients with falsified emails, the conspirators used software that made their messages hard to track, used illegal methods to get around spam blockers, falsified headers, and used proxy computers to relay the spam and falsely registered domain names, according to the Department of Justice. Their efforts reportedly brought in over $3 million.
While many of cases are still spending, Scott Bradley, Ralsky's 38-year-old son-in-law, pleaded guilty to the same charges and faces up to 78 months in prison and $1 million fine. John Brown, 45, of Fresno California, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud, of violating the CAN-SPAM Act, and conspiracy to commit computer fraud. Brown faces up to 63 months in prison and $75,000 fine. William Neil, 46, also of Fresno, California, and James Fite, 36, of Culver City, California, both pleaded guilty in the case. They, along with everyone else involved, will be sentenced on October 29, 2009.
As it's turning out, the fight against spam might not be so futile after all. Edward Davidson, who became known as the 'spam king' by sending out millions of falsely labeled emails, found himself behind bars in April, and then more recently, the FTC shut down one of the largest organized spam rings in the world in HerbalKing. And less than two weeks ago, the FTC scored another major win by shutting down a web host thought to be responsible for 75 percent of the world's spam. Now it's Facebook who's getting in on the fight.
Ruling on a case filed by Facebook against Adam Guerbuez and Atlantis Blue Capital on August 14, 2008, Federal Judge Jeremy Fogel has awarded Facebook over $873 million in damages. Atlantis Blue Capital found itself under legal fire for allegedly accessing Facebook's servers, setting up phishing websites to acquire Facebook logins and email addresses, and sending out millions of emails to the social networking site's members.
"It's unlikely that Geurbez and Atlantis Blue Capital could ever honor the judgment rendered against them (though we will certainly collect everything we can)," Max Kely, Facebook's director of security, wrote in a blog post. "But we are confident that this award represents a powerful deterrent to anyone and everyone who would seek to abuse Facebook and its users."
The sentence, which is likely to knock Atlantis Blue Capital out of business, also forbids Geurbuez to access, retain, or use Facebook data in any way, nor is he allowed to create or maintain a Facebook profile.
CRN recently reported on a research from internet security vendor Marshal that found out of the 622 users polled 29.1% admitted to having purchased items through spam emails.
I seriously hope this was just a particularly ignorant group of Internet users. Okay, now hear this; Buying stock through spam email amounts to lighting a match to your hard-earned cash. There is no magic pill to make your penis bigger or make you better in bed. Buying crap through spam encourages spammers to spam more. In other words, don’t do it! Those of us with a clue will thank you, if we don’t cuff you first.