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The Deadly Duo - Spam and Viruses - 2004 Year-End Recap

  |  January 11, 2005   |  Comments

Concerns over spam's costs and Trojans take higher profile.

SPAM

When it comes to originating spam, China may have overtaken South Korea for the number two slot behind the United States in 2004, according to a source from the Internet Society of China's anti-spam council quoted by the China Business Times.

According to the source, 180 of 400 IP addresses blocked by the international anti-spam organization in November were located in China.

That report contradicts the latest numbers issued by Sophos Plc., which ranked China (including Hong Kong) third, behind the U.S. and South Korea.

The continued presence of the U.S. at the top of the list of spamming countries in 2004 underscored the inefficacy of new CAN-SPAM legislation aimed at curbing this increasingly time-consuming and costly trend.

2004 also brought more concrete information on spam's cost to businesses, in terms of impact on employee efficiency.

According to a study put out by the Stanford Institute for the Quantitative Study of Society (SIQQS) at the end of the year, spam accounts for five minutes of every hour spent online.

That amounts to 10 eight-hour workdays, or two full weeks of the average worker employed full-time. The SIQQS data substantiates earlier findings by Nucleus Research that the annual cost of spam is approximately $2,000 per employee, based on time spent expunging an estimated 7,500 unwanted emails from email queues per year.

Commtouch Daily Spam Outbreaks
Click here for larger view of daily spam outbreaks graph
The day with the single-highest number of spam outbreaks for the year occurred on December 13, when 1,657,283 outbreaks were measured by CommTouch. Since December 13, CommTouch routinely measured days with over 1,400,000 spam outbreaks, making the last two weeks of the year some of the highest spam days measured by the Mountain View, Calif.-based company in 2004.

VIRUSES

The Trojan Downloader.GK Trojan was responsible for the most malicious code attacks in 2004, accounting for 14 percent of all attacks, according to Panda Software. It was the first case of a Trojan topping the list of virus outbreaks for an entire year. Usually, Internet worms dominate.

The Downloader.GK downloads onto computers when Internet users visit certain Web sites and agree to install an ActiveX control. Once downloaded, the Trojan runs two separate adware programs from infected computers, according to Panda's year-end report.

Three other Trojans appeared on the top 10 list as well, including the Downloader.L (3.56 percent); the Qhost.gen (3.48 percent); and the StartPage.FH (3.34 percent). In 2003, only two Trojans appeared on the Panda's top ten list.

Three variants of the Netsky worm, which spread via email, also appeared in the Top Ten list of viruses, accounting for over 14 percent of all attacks.

Top Ten Viruses Most Frequently Detected by Panda ActiveScan in 2004
Viruse % frequency
Trj/Downloader.GK 14.00%
W32/Netsky.P.worm 6.92%
W32/Sasser.ftp 4.97%
W32/Gaobot.gen.worm 4.31%
Exploit/Mhtredir.gen 4.22%
W32/Netsky.D.worm 3.98%
Trj/Downloader.L 3.56%
Trj/Qhost.gen 3.48%
W32/Netsky.B.worm 3.45%
Trj/StartPage.FH 3.34%
Source: Panda Software

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