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The Deadly Duo: Spam and Viruses, January 2005

  |  February 15, 2005   |  Comments

Spam and Trojans are on the rise, despite any rumors to the contrary.

Spam as a Percentage of Incoming E-mailDespite reports that spam volume was either holding steady or even slightly diminishing in January, fresh data from a variety of sources indicate quite the opposite.

Approximately 10 of every 12 email messages sent are spam, and 1 out of 63 is infected with some form of virus, according to the latest figures from Postini. The former figure is roughly consistent with Ferris Research's finding that spam has consistently accounted for 70-80 percent of email sent since April 2004, gradually increasing over time.

One spam watchdog group, Mail-Filters.com, measures the percentage of spam of total email sent to have increased to as much as 93 percent in January 2005. This is up a full 6 percentage points, from 87 percent, as measured by the group in January 2004.

Number of Spam Messages per Week""We really don't see any indication that spam attacks will decrease in the near future," said Daniel Ashby, SVP at Mail-Filters. "In fact, we see evidence that not only is spam on the rise, but the threat to computers and personal information from that spam is increasing as well."

Yet, as Ferris points out, the "percentage of email sent" metric doesn't provide a clear indication of volume. When graphically depicted in terms of volume of spam messages per week, the unrestrained growth of spam from early 2003 through the end of 2004 is clear.

Now we see that, far from slowing down, the volume of spam continues to grow at a fairly consistent rate," wrote Ferris's Richi Jennings. "So tell me again... is spam leveling off?"

Viruses

In January, variants of the Netsky worm continued to be the most prevalent form of attack around the world. The New Year was also marked by the appearance of a new virus. The so-called Exploit.Iframe.B burst on to the scene, accounting for over 20 percent of viral attacks for the month, ranking behind only Netsky.Q.

"The most startling statistic in the chart was the rapid increase in Exploit.Iframe.B detections," said Steven Sundermeier, VP of products and services at Central Command. The virus exploits a known vulnerability within Microsoft's Internet Explorer that allows an attacker to execute potentially malicious code on users' machines by tricking them into opening an infected HTML-based email, explained Sundermeier.

January 2005 Dirty Dozen
Ranking Virus Name % of frequency
1. Worm/Netsky.Q 25.6
2. Exploit/Iframe.B 20.2
3. I-Worm/Sober.I 9.1
4. I-Worm/Zafi.D 6.9
5. I-Worm/Netsky.D 3.4
6. I-Worm/Zafi.B 3.1
7. I-Worm/Bagle.Z 2.9
8. I-Worm/Netsky.P 2.8
9. I-Worm/Netsky.C 2.5
10. I-Worm/Lovgate.AL 2.0
11. I-Worm/Bagle.BA 2.0
12. I-Worm/Bagle/ZIP.Gen 1.6
Others 17.9
Note: The table above represents the most prevalent
viruses for January 2005, number one being the
most frequent.
Source: Central Command Inc.

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