Report: Spam spreads faster via hacked email accounts

By Silky Malhotra | Published on 28 Nov 2014
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Spam sent from hacked e-mail accounts given more credence, spreads faster.

Report: Spam spreads faster via hacked email accounts

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Researchers have stated that spam spreads faster when it is sent out of hacked or compromised email accounts.

A research conducted by Ghita Mezzour and Kathleen Carley from Carnegie Mellon University, revealed different dynamics in spam distribution. The team found that hacked accounts were more aggressive in sending spam generated automatically by malware than individually propagated spam. The aggressive behavior of hacked accounts caused spam to spread and reach more people faster.

"Hacked accounts tend to send spam more aggressively, partly because deliberately, individually propagated spam is done manually, whereas hacked spam is more commonly generated automatically by the malware that has infected the account in the first place," researchers said.

The report added that spam coming from a known email address was often more believable than that coming from an anonymous or scandalous source. Researchers added that in some cases, the recipients think that the spam content is genuine and forward it to their friends.

The report states that traditionally, spam contained ads for counterfeit or fake products but now it also contains disruptive rumors and political information. Repeated and forcibly sent spam to one's inbox was the online equivalent of word-of-mouth and was propagated further. The research was published in the International Journal of Security and Networks. Read: You can hack Gmail with 92% success rate: Researchers

"Spammers often use hacked accounts to spread spam," explained researchers Ghita Mezzour and Kathleen Carley from Carnegie Mellon University.

"Understanding and modeling the effect of the behavior of these accounts is important to reducing spam and attacks on social networking sites," said Mezzour.

The number of cyber attacks has increased in the last year. In the biggest security breach of the year, Russian hackers stole 1.2 billion name and password combinations affecting 1.2 billion sites. Read: Yahoo, Google team up to create spy-free email systems

Source: Business Today

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Silky Malhotra

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