Technology

Monday Buzz: Spam Is Fading. Threats Are Not.

By / Jul 20, 2015 (iStock/Thinkstock)

Why you shouldn’t let your guard down just because a new report suggests a drop in spam email. Also: If you’re focused on charitable donations, a membership mindset could still work for you.

The good news: Spam is finally starting to lose its grip on our inboxes. The bad news? Well, in its place are far more dangerous threats.

According to Symantec’s latest Intelligence Report, the spam email rate has decreased to 49.7 percent—the first time it’s gotten below 50 percent since 2003. (For some perspective on how long ago that was in internet years: In 2003, Gmail didn’t even exist.)

But while spam has gone down, malware and phishing remain common threats for computer users, and ransomware—software that hackers use to encrypt files, after which they demand that the victims pay a ransom to regain access to those files—is a growing problem.

The result is that your inbox may soon no longer be the primary vessel of malware.

“This increase in activity lends more evidence to the idea that, with the continued drops in email-based malicious activity, attackers are simply moving to other areas of the threat landscape,” Ben Nahorney, cybersecurity threat analyst at Symantec, explains in the report [PDF].

The report reveals that the industries most often subjected to targeted attacks are manufacturing; finance, insurance, and real estate; and professional services. While manufacturing remains the industry most targeted by threats, at 22 percent, the level is down significantly from 41 percent in May.

Treat Donations Like Membership

“More and more people are choosing to pay organizations a small monthly fee, much like a recurring donation. With online and automatic payment, the arrangement is almost effortless.”

Is the membership economy a strategy that charitable nonprofits should start looking into? Allison Gauss, in a blog post for Classy, makes the case that nonprofits focused on donations, rather than membership, should start borrowing from the membership approach, especially considering that membership is increasingly becoming a key way that younger consumers embrace content. (What, you mean you don’t have a Spotify subscription?)

But it’s not enough to draw people to monthly-donation membership plans, Gauss says.

“The most important tip that all nonprofits should remember for monthly giving is that communication is key,” Gauss adds. “Anyone who makes a monthly gift to your organization deserves to be thanked and to continually see the impact of their donations. Ongoing gifts require ongoing stewardship.” (ht @robbiebax)

Other Links of Note

One side benefit of moving to the cloud is that you don’t need to waste your server room on giant machines anymore. Google for Work has some ideas for giving those drab rooms a second life.

Let’s think about the ways you can make your association stand out. SCD Group President Steve Drake provides some starting points.

iOS app of the day: The share extension Bee makes it faster to send along emails via a list of favorite contacts when you’re surfing around the interwebs.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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