Sunday, 6 July 2008

Unprotected internet users received 70 spam emails a day a month after setting up account

01st July 2008

credit card

UK web users were the target of bogus credit cards and loans

UK internet users are at risk from fraudsters using financial spam to take advantage of the credit crunch, according to a report out today.

A study has found that the UK has become a preferred target of bogus organisations offering pre-approved loans and credit cards.

UK residents also remain the most likely target of Nigerian fraudsters, attracting nearly a quarter of this type of spam sent to addresses worldwide.

They also receive more adult content than any other country except for the US.

Computer security company McAfee asked 50 volunteers in 10 countries to surf the web unprotected for 30 days in an effort to assess the benefits and dangers of spam.

Each volunteer was given a new, unprotected laptop and fresh email address with a credit card allowance of £250 to spend on deals offered in spam emails.

The trial coincided with the 30th anniversary of the first spam email, sent by a Californian electronics firm in 1978.

Simon Nicholls, a software developer from Brighton, received the fourth highest number of spam emails out of all the participants, a total of 5,414.

The five UK participants received the fifth highest number of emails, 11,965 in total and 1,149 in the first week alone.

The participants from all 10 countries received more than 104,000 spam emails over 30 days, an average of 2,096 each or about 70 a day.

McAfee said the experiment confirmed spammers were 'as active as ever' and were increasingly using 'psychological tricks' to lure internet users into parting with contact details and cash.

Spammers were using more local languages and cultural nuances as well as becoming much more targeted in a bid to avoid detection.

McAfee warned that many of the spam emails were phishing, or posing as a trustworthy source to fraudulently acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and bank account details.

None of the UK participants received viruses but eight per cent of the spam was classified as phishing emails which claimed to come from firms such as eBay.
Guy Roberts, director of security and research organisation Avert Labs EMEA, said: 'Spam is most definitely much more than a nuisance. It's a very real and fast-growing threat.'

McAfee chief executive Dave De Walt said: 'Our participants came from all walks of life, from all over the world and, given their interest to take part in the experiment, they were well aware of the problem.

'Despite this they were all shocked by the sheer amount of spam they attracted in such a short timeframe and the lengths the spammers would go to in order to achieve success.

'I think we can see from the experiment that spam is undeniably linked to cybercrime. However it is such an immense problem and it's never going to go away. It's no longer a question of solving it, but one of managing it.'

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