Proofpoint researchers noticed a variety of election-themed emails during June and July- everything from straightforward text-based spam with embedded links to credential phishing.
What is interesting is that samples skew heavily towards lures featuring the Republican nominee, Donald Trump; who had nearly 169 times as many spam lures as those featuring his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.
Whether they used graphics or text, the lures followed two general themes:
- Surprising election news by or about Trump: These usually had a fake sending alias of a major news organization like CNN or Fox News. Names and sometimes branding for both liberal and conservative news outlets were used in these lures.
- “Get rich / smart like Trump”: These sometimes included subtitles such as “Wall Street is outraged” and similar messages with fake sending aliases that appeared to come from consumer finance publications like “CNN Money”.
As Patrick Wheeler, Director of Threat Intelligence at Proofpoint, noted, “This is a contentious election, so we expected high volumes of election-related spam as threat actors capitalize on public attention. What we didn’t expect was the very lopsided use of lures related to a single candidate.”
The full analysis of the spam campaigns is available on Proofpoint’s blog: https://www.proofpoint.com/us/threat-insight/post/election-spam-trumps-phishing-as-November-draws-closer