Unemployed A Big Spam/Phishing Target In 2009

Expect more sophisticated spamming in 2009. And thanks to the economy, an increase in scams targeting the down and out, the tax-rebate hopeful, and the noble yet digitally naïve pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps market.

Also likely on the increase is abuse of free web-hosting and blogging services like Google’s Blogspot, according to McAfee’s January Spam Report, which analyzes trends from 2008 and predicts how they will continue in 2009, to be issued next week.

The earliest spam and phishing attempts expected in 2009 will target taxpayers expecting both tax refunds and tax relief under President Obama’s proposed stimulus package. “Until we have a tax system that doesn’t involve the collection of personal data, this will remain a very exploitable vector for criminals,” the report reads.

In addition, McAfee expects junk email and target websites to appear more professional and more corporate to present an air of legitimacy. “With the improving professionalism in scam corporate fronts they are likely to be very effective this year, unless consumers and enterprises are protected by a web security product or service that employs a reputation system.”

With the jobless rate rising, an increase in spam targeting the unemployed is also expected. Recipients should be wary of mail offering low-cost diplomas and certifications, money for school, home-business scams, and also of offers of credit or debt help.

Based on relative successes of some campaigns in 2008, McAfee also expects these tactics to increase in 2009:

Abuse of free web-hosting and blogging services like geocities, Blogspot, and Live.

Targeted phishing and corporate blackmail (pay us or we’ll release this information to the black market)

Abuse of free email services like Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, etc. “Shared SPF and SenderID records call to question the purpose of having them in the first place. The need for Domain Keys Identification Mail (DKIM), PGP key signing, and secondary authentication mechanisms will become more important to a basic business security model.”

Reformation of McColo-type hosting companies.

Luring web users with naked celebrities, gambling, and pills.

More professional looking phishing websites and emails.

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