Honest Marketers Spammers Chose to Impersonate in Q3
Remember the joy the #IceBucketChallenge brought to so many in the hot summer months? Everyone from marketers to individual donors voluntarily doused themselves with ice water because they knew they were helping fight ALS, a progressive neurodegenerative disease. On Wednesday, the ALS Association website says the campaign raised $115 since July 29. But spammers were happy, too.
"The launch of iPhone 6, along with the Ice Bucket Challenge initiative, were the two main topics that spammers used to promote junk mailings in the third quarter," writes Kaspersky Lab, a Moscow-based antivirus software provider.
Junk comprised 66.9 percent of all email traffic in Q3, the lab announced on Nov. 27. The good news? "That is 1.7 percentage points (p.p.) less than in Q2," according to the announcement.
Other highly imitated marketers included financial services, online banking and payment services providers, such as PayPal, Visa and AmEx. All of these spammers increased activity in this area this quarter and that targeting is only expected to grow, reports Kaspersky. Spammers are after users' financial information, says the lab.
Overall, recipients either saw phishing emails or spam emails with attachments containing malware that, most of the time, would redirect users to a landing page that allows criminals to control users' computers, according to the lab.
As for the #IceBucketChallenge, the most popular spam emails invited recipients "to watch the video of another IBC participant," the lab writes. "However, the attachments in these messages contained the malicious Backdoor.Win32.Androm.euop program, allowing criminals to take control of the compromised computer."
The iPhone spam messages imitated a few marketing techniques.
"The new smartphone was offered as a prize for different marketing contests and surveys," the lab writes. "There were also fraudulent mailings offering big discounts on the official price of the new model."
What can marketers do about any of this?
1. Warn Customers About Big Attacks. That's what E-ZPass customers were hearing about, according to a July 9 article in The Washington Post.
"Transportation agencies that administer E-ZPass accounts are warning their customers to beware of an email scam that begins with a claim they haven't paid their bills," the article reads.
2. Get Email Authentication in Order, because it's mandatory, writes Derek Harding of J-Labs for ClickZ on May 7.
"If you're sending out your messaging using a 'From' address at a major ISP (especially Yahoo or AOL), you need to stop," he writes. "You're spoofing those addresses and your email is increasingly going to get bounced. The same applies if you're using any system that purports to send on behalf of someone else, such as many forward-to-a-friend and sharing systems."
Many ISPs are switching to DMARC, which Harding says means non-authenticated email will be bounced or bulked—at the very least. "Last year, 91.4 percent of non-spam email sent to Gmail was authenticated," he writes.
3. It's a Good Time to Consider What the 'From' Line Says About the Brand. Jonathan Rick of the Jonathan Rick Group provides some interesting examples in a February 2013 piece in Fast Company.
" 'david at davidallgroup.com.' ... sends two messages: (1) 'I work for myself,' and (2) 'You're talking to the boss,' " writes Rick. Another example is, "steph at creative3.com." Rick says her email address "lets people know, 'I work for a casual small business.' "
Finally, he provides a self-selecting example.
"My friends at Chief, a branding agency, send emails from @mybigchief.com," he writes. "This choice is exactly right. If you pop in to Chief's headquarters, you won't find the Chieftains wearing suits; this is a place where they write on the walls and hold meetings on couches. So while @mybigchief.com may not reel in a stodgy client, it's the perfect way to bait the brands Chief wants to work with."
What else can marketers do?
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