Clearswift Reports Rise in Spam Offers of Casual Sex

March 23, 2005
Content security experts Clearswift have seen a sharp rise in spam purporting claiming to offer the details of women looking for casual sex. But e-mail users in search of a little company could get more than they bargained for, as the mails actually link directly to pornographic Web sites, where visitors run the risk of inadvertently downloading spyware onto their PC.

These sites initially appear to be dating forums for swingers, or available and lonely housewives. Yet closer inspection reveals they are actually a front for porn sites hosted in Russia and China. This trick is one of the latest additions to the spammers' armory, and has led to a jump of 180% in sex-related spam over the course of the last month -- up from 10% to 18.08% of the total analyzed by Clearswift's Spam Index -- the most in-depth monthly study of individual unsolicited e-mails.

"Without casting aspersions, those likely to respond to these kinds of adverts will be invariably hoping that 'one thing leads to another'," said Alyn Hockey, Clearswift's director of research. "But aside from the fact that these mails are bogus, clicking on any link within a spam mail can lead to a whole host of unwanted problems. They frequently contain malicious programs including spyware or rogue Internet dialers which can run up huge, unexpected bills."

Over the course of the last 20 months since the Spam Index's inception, we've seen a variety of spins on the theme in order to attract punters to sex Web sites, ranging from offers of a well-paid career as a porn star, to actually setting up and running a porn Web site. Sex sells, and the spam business is no different.

"We would advise recipients to immediately delete any unsolicited mail," continued Hockey. "We would also remind employers that they have a responsibility to ensure their staff are protected from this kind of material by establishing and communicating a robust e-mail security policy, and installing comprehensive filtering software at the gateway."

Consolidation is rife in the IT industry, and it seems spammers are following the same path. The incredible array of bizarre products seen post-Christmas -- including a dog-translator and a device which turned a coffee table into a kennel -- has completely dried up. The percentage of spam in the "Direct products" category, hasn't varied a huge amount over last month, declining slightly from 17.85% to 14.47%. Yet the diversity has gone, with spammers choosing to focus on software, accounting for over 3/4 of products on offer, and 12.03% of spam overall.

Interestingly, Rolex is no longer flavor of the month. The luxury watch offers which plagued our inboxes toward the end of 2004 have vanished. After peaking in October, they remained consistent in November, and have slid into obscurity since then. One new arrival, however, are phony Sony PSP giveaways. As the Sony/Nintendo battle for the best new portable games console hots up, we wouldn't be surprised to see more examples over the coming weeks.

Clearswift Strangest Spam of the Month

A twist on the usual libido-enhancing pills, this month's strangest spam advertises an herbal remedy which declares, "A real man is always ready for action. We can help!" The accompanying image is of a "real man" with a huge cucumber protruding from his trousers.

About the Spam Index

The spam categorization statistics were extracted from the millions of spam e-mails harvested by Clearswift's seed accounts on a weekly basis. They are collated and analyzed using Clearswift's spamActive service, which is an integral component of the multi-layered anti-spam protection offered by MIMEsweeper for SMTP 5.0. Updated eight times daily, spamActive routinely extracts spam terms, sender domains, URLs and subject lines, which can be automatically downloaded to update customers' e-mail policies.

Top 3 Hosts From Our Search

2Pars Enterprise