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Fraud Activity Trends

Fraud Activity Trends Introduction | Phishing Scams Using Current Events | Underground Economy Servers—Goods and Services Available for Sale | Spam Delivered by Botnets | Originating Sources of Botnet Spam | Significant Spam Tactics | Spam by Category

Fraud Activity Trends Introduction

Fraud activity discusses trends in phishing, spam. It also discusses activities observed on underground economy servers, because this is where much of the profit is made from phishing and spam attacks.

Phishing is an attempt by a third party to solicit confidential information from an individual, group, or organization by mimicking (or spoofing) a specific, usually well-known brand. Phishers attempt to trick users into disclosing personal data, such as credit card numbers, online banking credentials, and other sensitive information, which they can then use to commit fraudulent acts. Phishing generally requires victims to provide their credentials, often by duping them into filling out an online form. This is one of the characteristics that distinguishes phishing from spam-based scams (such as the widely disseminated “419 scam” and other social engineering scams).
Spam is usually defined as junk or unsolicited email sent by a third party. While it is certainly an annoyance to users and administrators, spam is also a serious security concern because it can be used to deliver Trojans, viruses, and phishing attempts. Spam can also include URLs that often link to malicious sites that, without the user being aware of it, attack a user’s system upon visitation. Large volumes of spam could also cause a loss of service or degradation in the performance of network resources and email gateways.
Underground economy servers are black market forums for advertising and trading stolen information and services. This discussion assesses underground economy servers according to the different types of goods and services advertised. It should be noted that this discussion might not necessarily be representative of Internet-wide activity; rather, it is intended as a snapshot of the activity that Symantec monitored during this period.

This section discusses the following metrics:
  • Phishing scams using current events
  • Underground economy servers—goods and services available for sale
  • Spam delivered by botnets
  • Originating sources of botnet spam
  • Significant spam tactics
  • Spam by category