According to Symantec’s MessageLabs Intelligence Report for January, 2011, pharmaceutical spam recently dropped to 59.1% of all spam – down from it’s all time high of 85% of all spam, back in May 2010. Still, that’s small comfort when you consider that spam currently accounts for 75.7 percent of all email traffic. What a waste of the Internet’s finite resources.
The report points out that “the decline is the result of both a halt in the spam-sending activities of three botnets – Rustock, Lethic and Xarvester – and also unrest among pharmaceutical spam-sending gangs following the closure of pharmaceutical spam affiliate, Spamit”.
This respite however, is likely to be short lived. MessageLabs Intelligence Senior Analyst, Paul Wood pointed out ‘”there are likely other factors at work, such as consolidation and restructuring of pharmaceutical spam operations ………. we expect to see more pharmaceutical spam in 2011 as new pharmaceutical spam brands emerge and botnets compete for their business.”
A snapshot of the threat landscape over the last month:
Spam: In January 2011, the global ratio of spam in email traffic from new and previously unknown bad sources was 78.6 percent (1 in 1.3 emails), a decrease of 3.1 percentage points since December.
Viruses: The global ratio of email-borne viruses in email traffic from new and previously unknown bad sources was one in 364.8 emails (0.274 percent) in January, a decrease of .03 percentage points since December. In January, 65.1 percent of email-borne malware contained links to malicious websites, a decrease of 2.5 percentage points since December.
Endpoint Threats: Threats against endpoint devices such as laptops, PCs and servers may penetrate an organization in a number of ways, including drive-by attacks from compromised websites, Trojan horses and worms that spread by copying themselves to removable drives. Analysis of the most frequently blocked malware for the last month revealed that the Sality.AE virus was the most prevalent. Sality.AE spreads by infecting executable files and attempts to download potentially malicious files from the Internet.
Phishing: In January, phishing activity was 1 in 409.7 emails (0.244 percent), an increase of 0.004 percentage points since December.
Web security: Analysis of web security activity shows that 44.1 percent of malicious domains blocked were new in January, an increase of 7.9 percentage points since December. Additionally, 21.8 percent of all web-based malware blocked was new in January, a decrease of 3.1 percentage points since last month. MessageLabs Intelligence also identified an average of 2,751 new websites per day harboring malware and other potentially unwanted programs such as spyware and adware, a decrease of 21.5 percent since December.
Reading this type of report (or at least the highlights), is certainly educational, and can be a major step in expanding that sense of threat awareness that active Internet users’ require.
The full MLI Report is available here in PDF.
Symantec’s MessageLabs Intelligence is a respected source of data and analysis for messaging security issues, trends and statistics. MessageLabs Intelligence provides a range of information on global security threats based on live data feeds from control towers around the world scanning billions of messages each week.
Symantec is a global leader in providing security, storage and systems management solutions to help consumers and organizations secure and manage their information-driven world. Our software and services protect against more risks at more points, more completely and efficiently, enabling confidence wherever information is used or stored. More information is available at www.symantec.com.
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