Spammer Workweek Aligns With Regular Business Hours, Study Finds

By: Kelley Katsanos| - Leave a comment

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According to new research from IBM X-Force Kassel, spam distribution schedules closely align with regular business hours, eWeek reports. The research team, which operates one of the largest databases of spam honeypots and spam research, offered insights into the work patterns of spammer operators by analyzing the trends of billions of unsolicited emails.

X-Force Data Findings

IBM researchers focused on data from December 2016 to June 2017 and found that 83 percent of spam is sent on the weekdays. Tuesday is marked as the busiest spam day of the week, followed by Wednesday and Thursday. The analysis showed that spammer operators normally begin distribution around 1 a.m. EST during the week and slow distribution around 4 p.m. EST. Moreover, even though spam occurs 24 hours a day, there is a decline in spam volume during overnight hours. The study determined that India is the top originator of spam, followed by South America.

“In this particular research, we focused on the weekday and the hourly rates of spam,” Limor Kessem, executive security advisor at IBM Security, told eWeek. “In general, there is always a monthly fluctuation in spam, depending on the total of campaigns launched by all actors combined for a given month, as well as seasonal trends like increased spam activity around tax time, the holidays or even timed with large sporting events like the Olympics.”

Kessem notes that although spam distribution currently involves a considerable amount of automation, spamming still needs ongoing awareness from those who control spam mailers or spam botnets. Sophisticated spam cybergangs such as Necurs — one of the largest botnets in the world — can send spam in very short periods and direct it toward specific lists based on region and recipient type at any time of day.

“So, while some of the spam is quite indiscriminate and subsequently gets blocked by filters and security technology, the more malicious emails — ransomware, Trojans — are handled with extra caution and significant planning and human involvement prior to distribution of the spam to make sure they make it to as many potential victims as possible,” Kessem explained.

The Importance of Tracking Spam

Overall, the problem of unwanted email or spam has created security issues for businesses for quite some time — and it is still unsolved. This is partly because “organizations and webmail providers are there to deliver mail and not block it,” Kessem said.

According to Kessem, although users are becoming more educated about spam ramifications and are utilizing spam filters, attackers are likely to find increasingly sophisticated ways to target some recipients. To mitigate risks and safeguard organizations against spam, Kessem recommends that businesses learn spammer trends and methods and track their activity.

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About The Author

Kelley Katsanos

News Writer

Kelley Katsanos is a freelance writer specializing in business and technology. She has previously worked in business roles involving marketing analysis and competitive intelligence. Her freelance work appears at IBM Midsize Insider, Houston Chronicle's chron.com, and AZ Central Small Business. Katsanos earned a Master of Science in Information Management from Arizona State University as well as a bachelor's degree in Business with an emphasis in marketing. Her interests include information security, marketing strategy, and business process improvement.