Personalized Email Spam Quadruples

From people’s paychecks to stock returns, almost every meaningful economic metric was down in 2008.   Fear not though, email spam doubled and what is even more annoying is that personalized spam quadrupled this past year. Just what the doctor ordered eh?

Why the massive jump in personalized spam you say? Well personalization is the holy grail of marketing. It makes mass messaging appeal to an individual by inserting some kind personal information in the message. So, for example if the local car dealership sends you an email saying “Hey John…” or some other sort of personal information the chances of you opening, reading and responding to their call to action is much higher. In fact marketing journals are full of data demonstrating response rates can oftentimes be increased dramatically through personalization.

Now spammers are starting to personalize spam and bombard everyone with very targeted messages.  Here is the story from Marketing Charts:

Spam nearly doubled worldwide since last year and now accounts for nearly 200 billion email messages each day (approximately 90% of email sent), while “personalized” spam based on personal information stolen from the web, has quadrupled in the same time period, according to a study from Cisco Systems, reports MarketingVox.

The Cisco Annual Security Report for 2008 finds that personalized spam, also known as “spear phishing,” comprised more than 0.4% of all September attacks versus less than 0.1% a year ago.

According to the report, the latest types of spear-phishing campaigns include:

  • Spam sent via SMS to the mobile phones of recipients in the same area code.
  • Emails that appear to be from the Internal Revenue Service, The Better Business Bureau, and the US district courts or tax courts.
  • Emails pretending to be from universities with which the intended victims are affiliated as current students, alumni, or faculty.
  • Emails that attempt to lure the victim into entering login information about their Google Adwords account (not only is the victim’s credit card or personal information stolen, but often, their Adwords traffic gets redirected to criminal-run blogs).
  • “Whaling” emails, which are extremely personalized to target specific top executives.

Be aware of what you open and where you give out  your information.

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