Number of malicious e-mails with bad links balloons 10-fold

Malware as attachment is so passe, says MessageLabs

The percentage of threats arriving in e-mail that rely on links to malicious sites -- rather than arriving as a file attachment -- has ballooned 10-fold since the first quarter of the year, a UK security company said today.

In a report published Thursday, U.K.-based MessageLabs said that 35 percent of the e-mail threats it now detects use embedded links to infect computers instead of the more traditional file attachments. In the March-June time frame, that figure was 20.2 percent, said the company. And in the opening quarter of 2007, a mere 3.3 percent of the intercepted threats carried links.

The links, said Paul Wood, a MessageLabs senior security analyst, lead unwary users directly to malware downloads, or increasingly, to purposefully-crafted sites that sport malicious JavaScript. "The volume of attacks using attachments has diminished over the last 18 months," said Wood, "while the number using links has shown a massive increase."

MessageLabs' data jibes with recent analyses by other security vendors, which have all noted the rapid increase in Web-based attacks -- often from legitimate sites that have been compromised by criminals. Such trusted sites make perfect lures for drawing in users, whose browsers are then typically attacked through one or more unpatched vulnerabilities, allowing rogue code -- often spyware or a Trojan horse that hijacks the PC to add it to a growing botnet -- to be installed.

"The bad guys know that most people have learned not to open attachments," said Wood. "E-mail is still the preferred attacker vehicle for getting their 'message' across, but now they're using links. They know people still follow links."

Join the PC World 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.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?