Security researchers say holiday-related spam has been relatively low this year.
Holiday spam just isn't what it used to be.
According to security vendors, the amount of Christmas-related spam has
dwindled significantly for 2010. While the end of the year has traditionally
been a time for an upsurge in Christmas holiday spam, it now accounts for less
than 1 percent of all the spam making the rounds on the Internet, M86 Security
"Holiday/Xmas spam is a non-event this year as far as activity from
major botnets is concerned," said Phil Hay, senior threat analyst at M86.
"The major botnets that are left are currently spamming their usual
affiliate programs in a typical way, mostly centered
around drugs and replicas
," he added. "We are seeing very small
campaigns from sources that are unknown to us. ... But these cases are minor in
the overall scheme of things. On the malware front it's a similar story,
with the demise of Bredolab, the amount of spam and malware has drastically
reduced, and what is left is not Christmas themed."
Sam Masiello, director of messaging security research for McAfee Labs,
noted that while the traditional e-greeting card scams continue to
to have dropped during the past five to six weeks.
To be sure, there were a number of takedown operations targeting botnet
operators during the year. Law enforcement in Armenia,
for example, arrested a man in October on charges of running a botnet of
PCs infected with Bredolab, a
notorious Trojan downloader
. In November, federal authorities picked up a
man in Las Vegas linked to the
What little holiday spam McAfee has seen lately has mostly come from the
Cutwail and Rustock botnets, which are the two highest spam-sending botnets on
the Internet today, Masiello said.
"These e-mails however have not generally contained Christmas or
holiday-related subject lines ... and it isn't until you open the e-mail that you
are presented with a holiday-related advertisement," he said.
The most prevalent e-mail attachment-based malware observed during the past
quarter has been related to e-cards and fake DHL delivery e-mails, he
added. The fake DHL delivery spammers appear to release a new campaign on
the order of about three to four times per week, he added.
"All in all, it's eerily quiet," Hay said.