The most common category of spam in October was pharmaceutical related. The second most common was related to adult sites or dating. Spam pushing prescription drugs accounted for 37 percent of spam in October. Two and a half percent advertised sex or dating.
The most common spam subject lines tend to change depending on current events and effectiveness. Four of the top subject lines for October had to do with financial transactions or Facebook.
Spammers are targeting what people are interested in, said Kevin San Diego, vice president of product marketing at Cloudmark, a messaging security company that provides infrastructure and technology to fight message abuse for systems from SMS to social media. "Certainly they keep advertising for it so there must be a market for people who have tried to purchase those products," he said of the top spam.
San Diego says companies using spam marketing often aren't selling anything at, but looking for ways to get your information so they can sell it to third parties.
"These subject lines show that spammers continue to be creative and use diverse topics for subject lines even if the content is the same, malware in this case. Malware has been on the rise, as documented in recent Symantec Intelligence Reports, and we will probably continue to see various brands spoofed for malware spam," Symantec said.
They Symantec spokesman noted that spammers also try to randomize subject lines to get more emails past spam filters. "It is entirely possible that a large spam campaign could be absent from that list because the spammer may choose to randomize the subject line. So this is why I said that [the subject line] one of many views we look at," he said.
I asked other Security Management editors to send me the subject lines of the five most recent spam messages they received on an outside email provider to see how closely they followed the trends outlined by Symantec. Continue to the next page to see subject lines we've received: