China emerged as top spam sender directly after the McColo shutdown, but was replaced by Brazil by the end of the year. Interestingly, about 30% of worldwide spams originate (where the server is present and has sent the email) in Russia, US and Turkey.
The report adds that globally, after increasing by about 50% from April to June, the spam volume fell back to April levels by August, and then took a significant drop (75%) in November. As of December, volumes rebounded to 70% of the original level. Phishers continue to attack financial institutions. Nearly 90% of phishing attacks were targeted at financial institutions. 46% of all malware in 2008 were Trojans targeting users of online games and online banking. The X-Force report predicts that these specific user groups will likely remain targets in 2009.
Holly Stewart, product manager, IBM X-Force, said, There is an alarming increase in attacks using legitimate business sites as launching pads for attacks against consumers, especially that of the financial institutions. Attackers are intensely focused on attacking Web applications so they can infect end-user machines. Meanwhile, corporations are using off-the-shelf applications that are riddled with vulnerabilities or even worse, custom applications that can host numerous unknown vulnerabilities that cant be patched. She adds that attackers are turning their focus to incorporate new types of exploits that link to malicious movies (for example, Flash) and documents (for example, PDFs). The report adds that there are an incredible number of vulnerabilities in Web applications that have no vendor supplied patch to fix the issue. Out of all the disclosures in 2008, 74% had no patch by the end of 2008.