Threat Management, Malware, Phishing

Election season spam correlates with the polls, study

A recent study on election spam found spammers use candidates with the strongest brands in their lures with the winning candidate or party appearing in higher volumes of election-related spam than their opponents.

Proofpoint researchers conducted an investigation of spam volumes with subjects related to German political parties and the key figures in each party and found that election spam often strongly correlates with public opinions of candidates, according to a Sept. 18 blog post.

Researchers noted spikes in activity on the day when Angela Merkel announced the CDU election manifesto, the day before parties declare their intent to participate, the day official candidates confirmed, when Angela Merkel took a widely publicized holiday break, and when SPD unveiled their election strategy.

Researchers also noted spikes in spam activity when the participating parties were announced, campaigning officially begun and when the Turkish president ignited controversy with statements about the German election

The trends echoed observations seen from both US and French elections in which there are peaks in spam activity two to three months prior to the elections before activity settles down with occasional spikes, often associated with major election-related events or news.

“While it remains to be seen how much influence – if any –  spam email can have on the outcome of an election, recent elections in the United States, France, and the United Kingdom have repeatedly demonstrated the predictive power of spam volumes and the ability to use them as a barometer that is at least as effective as opinion polling in major elections,” researchers said. “In the case of the upcoming German elections, it appears that spam actors have already cast their votes for the status quo

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