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The Deadly Duo: Spam and Viruses, August 2004

  |  September 13, 2004   |  Comments

Spam is inching toward an expected end-of-year peak, and the virus troubles seem minor compared to last summer's outbreaks.

The spam level hit 76 percent of the 5.7 billion messages processed by Postini over the month. The volume has hovered in the same range throughout 2004, dropping from a peak 79 percent in January. The current ratio may just represent a small lull, as spammers gear up for an end-of-year assault.

Recent Spam Volume
August 2004 76%
July 2004 75%
June 2004 76%
May 2004 78%
April 2004 78%
March 2004 77%
February 2004 76%
January 2004 79%
December 2003 80%
Source: Postini

Andrew Lochart, director of product marketing for Postini says that there is some seasonality in spam. "We would expect that to push spam rates higher at the end of the year, relative to where we are now."

Clearswift also noticed a seasonal trend in spam, pointing to the annual summer uptick in pornographic messages. The volume of porn spam increased almost 350 percent since June, exhibiting an enormous growth rate for the second consecutive year.

Analysis from Commtouch Inc. revealed that the bulk of the junk email advertised Viagra, which accounted for just over 24 percent of spam messages. Drug messages, along with those advertising pornography and casinos, spiked since June when just under 30 percent of spam advertised pharmaceuticals, roughly 3 percent featured porn, and 0.45 percent advertised casinos.

Top Products Advertised in
Spam Messages, August 2004
Drugs 37.67%
Software sales 9.83%
Mortgage/refinance 9.28%
Shopping 7.67%
Porn 4.94%
Organ enlargement 4.39%
Financial 4.28%
Weight loss 2.33%
Dating 1.94%
Work from home/jobs 1.89%
Vehicle warranties 1.86%
Casinos 1.72%
Beauty products/health 1.67%
University degrees 1.56%
Debt solutions 1.33%
Source: Commtouch Inc.

South Korea, a leader in broadband penetration, overtook China as the country that hosted the most spammer sites, Commtouch found. Roughly 47 percent of spam contains a link to a South Korean Web site, compared to nearly 32 percent from China. Brazil trailed at just over 11 percent, followed by the United States at just below 10 percent.

The U.S. continues to lead as the country where most of the August spam originated at almost 42 percent. South Korea was a distant second place at just over 14 percent, followed by China at just under 14 percent, and Brazil with 4 percent.

August was relatively quiet for viruses, compared to the same time last year when a number of global outbreaks occurred. Central Command identified Worm/Netsky.P as the most prevalent threat for the month, followed by variations.

August 2004 Dirty Dozen
Ranking Virus Name Percentage
1. Worm/Netsky.P 28.4%
2. Worm/Netsky.Z 8.0%
3. Worm/Zafi.B 7.4%
4. Worm/Netsky.D 3.9%
5. Worm/Netsky.C 3.5%
6. Worm/MyDoom.M 2.6%
7. Worm/Netsky.Q 2.4%
8. Worm/Bagle.AA 2.1%
9. Worm/Netsky.B 2.0%
10. Worm/LovGate.AH 1.2%
11. Worm/Bagle.AI 0.9%
12. Worm/LovGate.AI 0.8%
Others 36.8%
Note: The table above represents the most prevalent
viruses for August 2004, number one being the
most frequent.
Source: Central Command, Inc.

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