13 July 2014

Researchers have observed an increase in the amount of spam reaching inboxes over the past week, including through major email providers such as Google, Yahoo and Microsoft.

The bulk of spam emails are usually removed by spam filtering.

Subscribers are warned to be wary of unsolicited emails and to not open attachments in an email unless you are expecting it and are confident about its authenticity and sender.

The spam has been able to get through email filters because spammers have changed their methods. It is expected that spam filters will update to filter out these messages over the next few weeks, but in the meantime you should be wary.

Examples of the spam typically have a small amount of text which includes misspellings, and some have an attachment with further information (such as a word document). Many of these are employment scams, but other types of scams have also been seen.

In addition to scams, there is also a risk that attachments could be malicious, and if clicked, could install malware on your computer.

The current spam emails use language that is somewhat different from previous spam, meaning spam filters do not always identify them as unwanted messages. Email filter vendors are aware of the spam and should update their filtering models to capture these new variations.

For example, one of the current spam messages contains the following:

Wujiang Zhaofeng Weaving Company solicits for International Representatives to
oversea corporate functions abroad, if interested kindly contact attached for
details.

This example included a Microsoft Word document with ‘further information’, promising a job opportunity with a high income. The requirements of the job included receiving payments from customers and forward this money onto the company. This particular scam involves laundering money from criminal activity by transferring it into your account, so could potentially leave you liable to criminal prosecution.

Staying safe

Be suspicious of any messages you receive from unknown or untrusted sources.

Do not click on links or attachments in a message unless you are confident about its content.

You can always navigate to the original website or source yourself—independently of links in any message—to cross check its information.

If you are suspicious, simply delete the message.

Spam email attachments can contain malware which can infect your computer. If you are unsure of the origin of an email, do not open any attachments.

Be suspicious of any overt or unsolicited requests for your personal information or your bank account information via email—even from a potential employer.

Any job that requires you to move money using your own personal bank account (or one that is setup in your name) is a scam that could implicate you in criminal charges.

More information

Stay Smart Online has more information on avoiding online scams and managing spam. A previous alert contains further information on employment scams.

You can report spam to ACMA.

Information provided by the Internet Commerce Security Laboratory.

The information provided here is of a general nature. Everyone's circumstances are different. If you require specific advice you should contact your local technical support provider

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