M86 Security, a global expert in real-time threat protection recently published a security review on the most recent trends they are seeing in cyber-threats during the second half of 2011. After probing e-mail threat tendencies and the Web in general the report makes some interesting assertions. Most notably, taking note of spam trends, the study found that while spam emails on average diminished significantly from September to December of last year, the total amount of e-mail junk having malevolent attachments increased to over 5 percent from not even 1.

The study found that incoming amounts of spam declined to 70% of all incoming e-mail traffic during December 2011. While that seems a large number, when compared to the numbers in September, which were over 90%, it is clear that there was a significant down-trend in spam frequency Additionally, the study made note of the largest host countries for spam and malevolent email activity.

It was somewhat surprising to see that the USA at 51.4% was far and away the leader, with Russia in a distant second place at only 6%. The study showed the most prominent botnets were behind the maximum amount of e-mail junk. M86 reports that during 2011, personalized assaults have become increasingly sophisticated.

Direct assaults on national infrastructure and government sites rose through the use of key-logging. The overall gist of the study points to traditional email spam becoming less common. The threat of malevolent effect through email seems to have increased overall however, as targeted breaches and dangerous attachments to email have become more common. The study seems to indicate that email predators are switching tactics rather than reforming their practice. Be wary of emails from people you don’t know, and never under any circumstances download email attachments unless you are familiar with and trust the source of the email. Keep your anti-virus software up to date and contact the authorities if you feel you have been the victim of an email related scam.

“M86 Cyber Threat Security Review” was written by Matt Davis. Matt is a Victim Advisor at the Identity Theft Resource Center. We welcome you to post/reprint the above article, as written, giving credit to and linking back to the ITRC Blog.