MANILA, FEBRUARY 4, 2008 (STAR) Spammers don’t seem to run out of new tactics as the January 2008 State of Spam Report of Symantec Corp. revealed new findings on spam attacks during the holidays.

One of these is a new take on the 419 scam e-mail traditionally telling stories about African dictators, a spam regularly seen by Filipinos in their e-mail inboxes.

According to Symantec, 419 spammers have discovered a new approach by stating that victims of 419 scams will receive compensation of $100,000 each, and payments will be supervised by UN officials.

To appear legitimate, the spam messages even provided some URL links as a reference to money that was allegedly successfully recovered by a 419 scam victim.

At the bottom of the e-mail, it explains how the money may be recovered and the fraudulent background of such e-mails may be observed.

Oil price hike, a topic currently hotly debated by Filipinos, is also being used by spammers to lure victims.

The Symantec report observed oil price hike-related spam tactics that informed consumers of a downloadable tool that will allow them to obtain a list of gasoline stations with tampered gas pumps to fraudulently overcharge for gasoline. This download turned out to be a Trojan horse.

Although the first incidents of this type of spam were aimed at Mexicans, the same tactic with different variations may be used in different countries.

In the past few years, an increase in spam levels during holiday seasons has been typically noted. Symantec observed that global spam levels in December 2007 experienced a surge, accounting for 75 percent of all e-mail (up from 72 percent in November 2007), with an increase to 83 percent in the last few days prior to Christmas.

From this, it is clear that spammers will continue to reinvent how they send spam. Users are advised to adhere to several security best practices in order to minimize online threats, including:

• Never view, open or execute any e-mail attachment unless the attachment is expected and the purpose of the attachment is known.

• Use an Internet security solution that combines antivirus, firewall, intrusion detection, and vulnerability management for maximum protection against malicious code and other threats.

• Keep virus definitions updated regularly.

To learn more about the spam trends in the January 2008 State of Spam Report, log on to

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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