Symantec Announces October 2010 Messagelabs Intelligence Report

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29th October 2010, 12:27am - Views: 1025

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Symantec Announces October 2010 MessageLabs Intelligence Report

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Oct. 28 /PRNewswire-Asia/ --


For the first time, up to 25 percent of all targeted attacks in October destined for the Retail sector - 


    October 28, 2010 - Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC) today announced the publication of its October 2010

MessageLabs Intelligence Report. Analysis reveals that targeted attacks have increased significantly since

they were first discovered five years ago from one to two attacks per week in 2005 to 77 attacks per day in

October 2010. For the first time, targeted attacks hit the retail sector hardest this month where they increased

from a steady monthly average of .5 percent of all attacks over the past two years to 25 percent in October

characterized by a retail organization that was the intended recipient of three waves of highly targeted spear

phishing attacks. In October, 1 in 1.26 million emails comprised a targeted attack. 

    Typically, between 200 and 300 organizations are targeted each month with the industry sector varying.

Over time, the same individuals are targeted but using different exploit methods. For example, in October, an

average of 5.4 users was targeted within each organization. 


    "While targeted emails by nature are sent in low volumes, they are one of the most damaging types of

malicious attacks," said MessageLabs Intelligence Senior Analyst Paul Wood. "We have seen a constant influx

of targeted attacks over the past six months with the type of organization targeted changing on a monthly

basis and the number of targeted users increasing each month. Although the number of unique attack exploits

being deployed has diminished slightly, the number of attacks used by each exploit has increased."  

    In October, the number of targeted attacks aimed at businesses in the Retail sector rose considerably

above the monthly average of 1 in 1.26 million, increasing the likelihood of an attack by a factor of almost 6.3

times. Moreover, the number of attacks against the retail sector jumped to 516 in the last month, compared to

just seven attacks per month for much of 2010 marking the first time the retail sector had been the focus of a

targeted attack campaign in recent years. 

    "Of the 516 attacks, only six organizations were the intended targets but two of them were mainly targeted

one of which was the target of 63 percent of the 516 attacks," Wood said. "The spear phishing attacks,

launched in three waves each one week apart, used social engineering techniques to distribute legitimate-

looking emails from HR and IT staff of the targeted organization but in actuality contained malicious


    Each wave was comprised of one or two different email messages using different themes. The first wave of

emails targeted 50 recipients and spoofed an email address from the firm's Senior HR Executive with subjects

referring to confidential salary information. The attachment contained a malicious PDF. The second wave also

spoofed an HR Executive and targeted 20 recipients with a subject line pertaining to new employment


    The malicious attachment was an XLS file. The third wave took a slightly different approach and spoofed

one of the organization's Senior IT Security Executives. It targeted 70 employees and requested action with a

critical security update. The malicious attachment was a password-protected zip file. 

    "Examination of the attacks' timing and techniques suggests a methodical approach on behalf of the

attackers," Wood said. "In the case that the recipient clicked on any of the three malicious attachments, a

backdoor Trojan would have been installed onto the computer with the potential for the attacker to gain access

to any sensitive personal information or valuable corporate data on the machine."

    Other report highlights:

    Spam: In October 2010, the global ratio of spam in email traffic from new and previously unknown bad

sources was 87.5 percent (1 in 1.4 emails), a decrease of 4.2 percentage points since September. 


    Viruses: The global ratio of email-borne viruses in email traffic from new and previously unknown bad

sources was one in 221.9 emails (0.45 percent) in October, an decrease of .01 percentage points since

September. In October, 23.1 percent of email-borne malware contained links to malicious websites, an

increase of 15.5 percentage points since September. 


    Endpoint Threats: Threats against endpoint devices such as laptops, PCs and servers may penetrate an

organization in a number of ways, including drive-by attacks from compromised websites, Trojan horses and

worms that spread by copying themselves to removable drives. Analysis of the most frequently blocked

malware for the last month revealed that the Sality.AE virus was the most prevalent. Sality.AE spreads by

infecting executable files and attempts to download potentially malicious files from the Internet.


    Phishing: In October, phishing activity was 1 in 488.0 emails (0.20 percent), a decrease of 0.06 percentage

points since September. 


    Web security: Analysis of web security activity shows that 51.3 percent of malicious domains blocked were

new in October, an increase of 17.7 percentage points since September. Additionally, 24.7 percent of all web-

based malware blocked was new in October, an increase of 2.9 percentage points since last month.

MessageLabs Intelligence also identified an average of 2,280 new websites per day harboring malware and

other potentially unwanted programs such as spyware and adware, a decrease of 23.9 percent since



    Geographical Trends:

    -- Luxembourg became the most spammed in October with a spam rate

       of 94.9 percent.

    -- In the US, 91.6 percent of email was spam and 91.3 percent in

       Canada. Spam levels in the UK were 91.1 percent. 

    -- In the Netherlands, spam accounted for 92.3 percent of email traffic,

       while spam levels reached 91.6 percent in Germany, 93.3 percent in

       Denmark and 90.8 percent in Australia.   

    -- Spam levels in Hong Kong reached 93.3 percent and 90.2 percent in 

       Singapore. Spam levels in Japan were at 89.6 percent and 93.8 percent

       in China. In South Africa, spam accounted for 91.0 percent of email


    -- South Africa remained the most targeted by email-borne malware with

       1 in 113.7 emails blocked as malicious in October.


    -- In the UK, 1 in 127.1 emails contained malware. In the US virus

       levels were 1 in 425.3 and 1 in 254.5 for Canada. In Germany, virus

       levels reached 1 in 219.3, 1 in 215.7 in Denmark, 1 in 278.9 for the


    -- In Australia, 1 in 474.5 emails were malicious and, 1 in 157.0 for

       Hong Kong, for Japan it was 1 in 738.1 compared with 1 in 576.4 for



    Vertical Trends:

    -- In October, the most spammed industry sector with a spam rate of 93.5

       percent continued to be the Automotive sector. 

    -- Spam levels for the Education sector were 92.1 percent, 91.8 percent

       for the Chemical & Pharmaceutical sector, 91.6 percent for IT Services,

       91.5 percent for Retail, 91.0 percent for Public Sector and 90.5

       percent for Finance.

    -- In October, Government/Public Sector remained the most targeted

       industry for malware with 1 in 43.2 emails being blocked as malicious.


    -- Virus levels for the Chemical & Pharmaceutical sector were 1 in 188.4,

       1 in 224.4 for the IT Services sector, 1 in 386.0 for Retail, 1 in

       167.7 for Education and 1 in 361.3 for Finance. 


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    The October 2010 MessageLabs Intelligence Report provides greater detail on all of the trends and figures

noted above, as well as more detailed geographical and vertical trends. The full report is available at

    Symantec's MessageLabs Intelligence is a respected source of data and analysis for messaging security

issues, trends and statistics. MessageLabs Intelligence provides a range of information on global security

threats based on live data feeds from our control towers around the world scanning billions of messages each



    About Symantec 

    Symantec is a global leader in providing security, storage and systems management solutions to help

consumers and organizations secure and manage their information-driven world.  Our software and services

protect against more risks at more points, more completely and efficiently, enabling confidence wherever

information is used or stored. More information is available at .



Media contacts:

     Adrian Lee


     Tel:   +65-9423-0109


     SOURCE: Symantec   

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