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October 12, 2009

McAfee warns on dangers of branded spam

Spammers damaging brand reputation of named businesses

By CBR Staff Writer

Security experts have named Western Union, Liberty Medical and Penton Media among businesses that have suffered widespread brand abuse as sophisticated spammers successfully mimick their company branded emails.

Today’s spam looks just as good as the real thing, McAfee warns in a report published today, and is being used to entice people into clicking on spam emails and downloading risky content.

“Misspellings and cheap graphics are things of the past, and some deceptions can lead users into committing fraud,” said the security firm in its October 2009 Spam Report.

It noted that companies of all types feature among those whose brands are being fraudulently used to sell nonexistent merchandise or promote scams. 

Corporate marketing and legal teams need to watch for brand abuse by criminal organisations that want to tap into their target audience, McAfee said.

“When we examine the overall picture of brand abuse in spam, we see both an increase in spammers efforts to camouflage common spam strains under the guise of another group’s legitimacy as well as an increasing tendency to target an audience that is more susceptible to such advertising.”

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Such fraud damages the reputations of companies and ends up costing them prestige, customers, and revenue.

Research by the security software and services vendor showed Canadian pharmaceutical spam accounted for 70% of all spam, which now accounts for 19 of every 20 emails.

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