Number of malicious e-mails with bad links balloons 10-fold

Malware as attachment is so passe, says MessageLabs

The percentage of threats arriving in e-mail that rely on links to malicious sites -- rather than arriving as a file attachment -- has ballooned 10-fold since the first quarter of the year, a UK security company said today.

In a report published Thursday, U.K.-based MessageLabs said that 35 percent of the e-mail threats it now detects use embedded links to infect computers instead of the more traditional file attachments. In the March-June time frame, that figure was 20.2 percent, said the company. And in the opening quarter of 2007, a mere 3.3 percent of the intercepted threats carried links.

The links, said Paul Wood, a MessageLabs senior security analyst, lead unwary users directly to malware downloads, or increasingly, to purposefully-crafted sites that sport malicious JavaScript. "The volume of attacks using attachments has diminished over the last 18 months," said Wood, "while the number using links has shown a massive increase."

MessageLabs' data jibes with recent analyses by other security vendors, which have all noted the rapid increase in Web-based attacks -- often from legitimate sites that have been compromised by criminals. Such trusted sites make perfect lures for drawing in users, whose browsers are then typically attacked through one or more unpatched vulnerabilities, allowing rogue code -- often spyware or a Trojan horse that hijacks the PC to add it to a growing botnet -- to be installed.

"The bad guys know that most people have learned not to open attachments," said Wood. "E-mail is still the preferred attacker vehicle for getting their 'message' across, but now they're using links. They know people still follow links."

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Gregg Keizer

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?