Love is a many splendored social engineering tool and spammers are busy sending out a whole lot of their particular brand of love across the electronic universe.
An interesting blog post (Love Hurts) by Kevin Haley at Symantec points out that malicious code writers are busy spreading their work in attachments hidden in the millions of spam messages being spewed out by zombies (compromised computers). If you click on one of these attachments — and your machine isn't bulletproof — it also can become a zombie and used as part of a botnet to send out more spam. Botnets are groups of compromised computers used to form a super computer. Of course, downloading malware can also mean that all your personal and financial information will be stolen, too. Please note (as you will see below) that some forms of malware currently being sent out can do both.
Kevin's blog post came out at almost the same time Symantec issued it's monthly Spam Landscape Report. With Valentine's Day coming up, love is a predictable lure and it's probably a good idea to make sure you know who loves you before clicking on any links in an e-mail.
Another predictable finding in the report is that spam levels are continuing to rise to normal levels after they fell when McColo was shut-down. McColo (a Web service hosting provider) was shut down in November after it was discovered they were the source of a large number of botnets, which are used to send out spam. Last month, 79 percent of all e-mail was spam. The report also notes that the point of origin for spam is shifting a little. Although the United States is still number one, the number of active zombies in other countries is rising. While some of this is being attributed to McColo, the report points out that this might point to the fact that some of these countries have an increasing number of users accessing the Internet.