E-mail Trends Show Hackers Working Weekends Less and Less

While there are an increasing number of weekends catered to hacking, even hackers need a day off – and it shouldn’t surprise many that increasingly, that day is usually Sunday. Network security company FireEye reviewed statistics on email-based attacks for 2012 that suggest that Sunday has slowed into a “day of rest” for hackers.

While there are an increasing number of weekends catered to hacking, even hackers need a day off – and it shouldn’t surprise many that increasingly, that day is usually Sunday. Network security company FireEye reviewed statistics on email-based attacks for 2012 that suggest that Sunday has slowed into a “day of rest” for hackers.

Darien Kindlund, a senior staff scientist with the firm, looked at the number of e-mails with malicious attachments year-to-date and deduced that levels have dropped off immensely from last year, especially over the weekend.

Data from Q1 this year suggests that attackers enjoy working in the middle of the week, with the number of attacks on Wednesday and Thursday accounting for more than four times the average of usual attacks. In fact, metrics gathered on alternating Wednesdays and Thursdays, Feb. 1, Feb. 9, March 7, and April 12, showed 473 percent, 444 percent, 385 percent and 387 percent increases in attacks, respectively.

Rate of malicious attachments detected (worldwide) by relative volume (2012 YTD)

Meanwhile, attacks on Saturdays and Sundays were exceptionally few and far between, numbers that accounted for a third of the average number of attacks so far this year.

FireEye was also able to analyze the frequency of advanced persistent threat attacks (APTs) and found that 60 percent of attacks happened in March, compared to January (17 percent), February (14 percent) and April (19 percent). Kindlund points out that the bulk of attacks in March came in mid-March, before spring break season.

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