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The Deadly Duo: Spam and Viruses, November 2005

  |  December 15, 2005   |  Comments

Record numbers of spam and virus infiltrated inboxes -- everywhere.

A flood of new viruses were introduced in November, yet the top players in the space mostly held positions reached last month.

Almost 40 new viruses surfaced in November, many appearing within eight hours of each other. Commtouch identified 29 percent of the attacks to be "low intensity;" 47 percent "medium intensity;" and 24 percent "high" to "very high." Many of the new viruses (53 percent) were part of what the firm called "multi-wave" attacks. Such attacks happen when virus propagators introduce variants within hours of the initial distribution of a virus to thwart updates to anti-virus software definitions. In one case, eight variants were released within 14 hours. Forty-seven percent of new viruses in November were sent as "one-off" attacks.

The firm also identified the return of pharmaceutical spam (38.74 percent) as the most prevalent spam category. In October, spam regarding gifts had climbed to first place. In November it fell into the third rank at 18.68 percent. The second-highest category in November was enhancers (20.60 percent); with finance in fourth place at 10.25 percent.

With 40 new viruses in the wild, one would expect movement in the top 20 virus threats. Kaspersky Lab cited little movement from its October list. Mytob.c gained four percent to maintain its top spot. The Mytob family will likely earn the dubious honor of "worm of the year."

Postini reported record levels of virus distribution in November, agreeing with other firms’ data. The predominant method of distribution was a .zip file attached to an email in German, or one appearing to originate from the FBI or CIA.

Anti-virus firm Symantec found virus threats tempting recipients to view photos of Paris Hilton in addition to those apparently originating from government agencies.

While Commtouch says 95 percent of email users have anti-virus protection, the second-annual "Online Safety Study" released jointly by America Online and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) finds 56 percent of its respondents hadn’t updated their virus software in the past week or had no anti-virus protection.

The annual report finds 23 percent of Americans vulnerable to phishing attacks each month. As many as 70 percent of recipients thought phishing emails originated from legitimate companies.

Top 20 Virus Threats, November 2005
Rank Virus Percentage
1 Net-Worm.Win32.Mytob.c 18.25
2 Email-Worm.Win32.Doombot.b 8.11
3 Email-Worm.Win32.Zafi.d 7.61
4 Net-Worm.Win32.Mytob.bi 6.03
5 Email-Worm.Win32.LovGate.w 6.02
6 Email-Worm.Win32.NetSky.q 4.15
7 Email-Worm.Win32.NetSky.b 3.73
8 Net-Worm.Win32.Mytob.t 3.17
9 Net-Worm.Win32.Mytob.bk 2.50
10 Net-Worm.Win32.Mytob.u 2.36
11 Net-Worm.Win32.Mytob.h 2.16
12 Net-Worm.Win32.Mytob.q 2.15
13 Email-Worm.Win32.Sober.y 1.99
14 Net-Worm.Win32.Mytob.bt 1.79
15 Net-Worm.Win32.Mytob.y 1.69
16 Email-Worm.Win32.Doombot.g 1.52
17 Email-Worm.Win32.Bagle.dx 1.50
18 Email-Worm.Win32.Zafi.b 1.40
19 Email-Worm.Win32.NetSky.y 1.12
20 Email-Worm.Win32.Doombot.d 1.09
Other malicious programs 21.66
Source: Kaspersky Lab, 2005

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Enid Burns

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