2013’s First Quarter at a Glance

With the close of 2013’s first quarter, we’ve released our Q1 2013 Global eMessaging Threat Report detailing a myriad of SMS and IP spam statistics, trends and observations from the past three months. Paramount among them is a set of allegations leveled by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). These filings contended that the defendants were responsible for collectively sending more than 180 million gift card themed scam SMS messages.

Subscriber reports to the GSMA Spam Reporting Service, 7726, shed a clear light on the potency of this regulatory move as daily volume rates for these scams plummeted. Below is a daily tracker illustrating the impact of the FTC regulations on the daily volume of SMS gift card scams. Earlier in the quarter, we were seeing gift card scam volumes peaking above 50% of all reports in a given day. Soon after the FTC announcement, the same scams plummeted below 10% of each day’s volume.  A similar trend was seen more macroscopically. In 2012, these scams constituted 44% of all SMS spam reported during the year. This has fallen dramatically in 2013 with only 6% of the March’s volume being gift card scams.

We saw growth in other attack categories over this quarter.  The figure below shows Job Listing Scam’s monthly volume share rose by 400% over the quarter. Similarly, Adult Content Spam doubled its share from 8% to 16%.

 

Meanwhile, the SpamSoldier Android botnet and other older botnets were linked to several Panamanian services. These services provided registration mechanisms for rogue online pharmacies, domains for the SpamSoldier botnet, and anonymous hosting for botnet Command and Control servers. More details about these Panamanian services along with further analysis of SMS and email spam trends in Q1 2013, can be found in our quarterly report.

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