Fueled by the Mirai botnet Symantec's October 2016 intelligence report saw the number of unique malware variants experience a massive uptick, while at the same time the lead up to the presidential election helped power a spike in election-related spam.
Symantec reported a spike to 96.1 million unique variants of malware spotted by the research firm last month, almost double the number seen in September. Symantec credited the Kovter family of threats (Trojan.Kotver) for much of the increase along with the Mirai botnet attack that struck down Twitter, PayPal and Spotify.
When it came the leading malware behind web attacks Symantec rated RIG as the most active exploit kit (EK) for the second month in a row comprising 37.4 percent of all EK activity, up 69 percent from September. Magnitude EK activity jumped 45 percent in October making it the second choice of cyberciminals, up from fourth in September.
The run up to the presidential election helped boost the amount of spam related to that even with Symantec seeing the global spam rate hit 54.1 percent, the highest level in a year. This means more than half of all email sent was spam.
However, despite that very high spam rate there was some good news regarding phishing attacks for the month. The rate of phishing emails dropped to one in 5,313. The business sector with the highest rate was public administration with one in 2,814 and business with between 1,501 and 2,500 employees that saw one in every 3,037 emails being a phishing attempt.
On the mobile front no new Android malware families were discovered in October, but the number of variants per family did increase with Android.Lockscreen which used a new technique to get around auto start restrictions by pretending to be a launcher.