PDF spam levels plummet

Having hit record volumes in early August, PDF spam now barely registers

It appears that PDF spam has had its 15 minutes of fame.

Having reached its peak volume on Aug. 7 at nearly 30 percent of all spam messages sent, PDF spam today is hardly registering on e-mail security vendors' spamometers.

The unwanted e-mails with PDF files attached -- usually pushing the recipient to purchase a penny stock that the spammer then dumps once the trading price goes up -- comprise less than 1 percent of spam today, according to security vendor Sophos.

PDF spam began hitting high volume levels in early summer, the highest of which occurred on Aug. 7 when a pump-and-dump stock scam exploded across the Internet, touting a company called Prime Time Group. The attached PDF looked like a financial newsletter advising the purchase of the stock. That spam blast, which some security vendors said at the time was the largest in spam history, lasted for the better part of the week.

There could be a number of reasons why PDF spam has all but disappeared, says Ron O'Brien, Sophos senior security analyst. Since the actual message is attached to, not embedded in, the e-mail, recipients may find it too time consuming or cumbersome to open, he says.

"A malicious embedded link, on the other hand, is quick and easy to access and would probably have a higher likelihood of luring people to open" it, he says.

The idea that PDF spam is too complex would explain why a few good old-fashioned spam messages appeared in some in-boxes this morning, simply stating the recipient should purchase a cheap stock before it gets snapped up. No attachments, not even a link to a Web site, just some persuasive text.

While spammers may be looking for new ways to get their message across, Sophos' O'Brien warns that e-mail users should beware of a false sense of security.

"Although PDF spam is showing a decrease currently, there's no reason to believe that it will not strike again," he says.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Cara Garretson

Network World
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?