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The Deadly Duo: Spam and Viruses, July 2004

  |  August 6, 2004   |  Comments

The spam ratio remained flat, while the volume originating from the U.S. dropped 10 points.

The spam level hit a plateau in July, marking the second time in the past year that the volume remained unchanged, according to statistics from the Symantec/Brightmail Probe Network. Of the 106 billion emails the company says to have filtered, 65 percent were classified as spam.

Product-related spam is growing quickly, rising equally as many percentage points in July as it did in June to 28 percent. Also of note, financially related messages dropped 3 points, while adult-oriented email rose 2 points.

Political spam inched up, which is likely a result of the end-of-month Democratic National Convention. The volume of political spam may spill over into August.

July 2004 Spam Category Data
Type of Spam June Volume July Volume Change
Products 25% 28% +3
Adult 15% 17% +2
Financial 18% 15% -3
Scams 9% 9% 0
Health 8% 7% -1
Fraud 5% 6% +1
Leisure 4% 5% +1
Internet 5% 4% -1
Other 6% 4% -2
Political 3% 4% +1
Spiritual 2% 1% -1
Source: Brightmail Logistics and Operations Center (BLOC)

Organizations are forced to address the skyrocketing spam volume, usually through third-party solutions. In a Return Path study conducted by Forrester Consulting, 61 percent of the 168 North American IT executive respondents said they used commercial filtering applications or appliances to deal with spam.

Further proving enterprise reliance on third-party solutions, the study found that an additional 27 percent use client-side filtering applications, 10 percent using open-source filtering applications, and 34 percent reported using public blacklists.

The return on investment for a commercial spam filtering solution can be justified, as Nucleus Research found that the average annual cost of spam per employee is nearly $2,000 to weed out the roughly 7,500 unwanted messages in their inboxes.

A positive item emerged in further analysis of July's spam volume. Commtouch Inc. found that the volume of spam originating from the U.S. dropped roughly 10 points since June's assessments.

Spam Origins,
June and July 2004
Country June July Change
United States 55.69% 45.84% -9.85
South Korea 10.23% 13.51% +3.28
China 6.60% 9.21% +2.61
Brazil 3.35% 3.80% +0.45
Canada 3.08% 3.25% +0.08
Hong Kong 3.03% 3.26% +0.23
Japan 2.46% 2.83% +0.37
Spain 1.80% 1.80% --
France 1.23% 1.31% +0.08
United Kingdom 1.20% -- --
Mexico -- 1.57% --
Source: Commtouch

Further good news comes from Postini, which measured a 1 point drop in the ratio to 75 percent of all email processed by the company during the month.

Postini identified the "netsky" virus as the top threat for the month of July. The company also warned Internet users to maintain vigilance against "mydoom.o," which mixes spam, virus and denial of service attacks.

Top Ten Viruses of July 2004:
Virus Name Quantity Detected
1. netsky 42,413,435
2. zafi 16,787,827
3. mime 15,379,051
4. mydoom 5,758,880
5. lovgate 2,950,475
6. bagle 1,737,298
7. objectdata 649,029
8. klez 634,867
9. dumaru 526,734
10. ebscam 471,386
Source: Postini

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