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Deadly Duo: March 2005

  |  April 13, 2005   |  Comments

Spam volume is up, but the annoyance factor is down.

Spam volume in the month of March declined very slightly to 87 percent of all messages according to Postini. Volume was 88 percent in February. On a year-over-year basis, March spam volume grew 10 percent (March 2005, 87 percent; March 2004, 77 percent). Despite spam’s apparent growth, it isn’t as "bad" this year as it was in 2004, according to a new Pew Internet & American Life Project study.

Multiple sources say spam volume has, generally speaking, been on the rise for at least the past year, inching closer to 100 percent of all email. "In theory, spam can get arbitrarily close to 100 percent of email, but can never quite get there," Andrew Lochart, Postini’s senior director of product marketing, told ClickZ Stats. "In practice, the percentage will grow more slowly because it takes a lot more spam these days to add one percent to the total.

"Yes, the level of spam is still rising, and we think it will be around 92 percent be the end of 2005," he added.

The Pew study sheds a different light on the tide. While there may be more spam out there, it’s bothering end users less, their study found. Whereas Postini’s quantitative research measures the volume of all email sent (before filtering), Pew’s qualitative study is based on users’ awareness, behavior and attitudes toward spam. As Lockhart points out, "More spam is being sent. Less is being received in inboxes."

Forty-seven percent of respondents to the survey reported no change in the volume of spam in their personal email accounts from 2004 to 2005. Twenty-two percent said they were getting less spam, and 28 percent said they were getting more spam in their personal accounts. The majority of business email account users (53 percent) noted no change in the volume of spam received over the last year; 16 percent received less, and only 21 percent said they were getting more.

Effects of Spam Over Time
Click on graphic to view chart
Spam is having less of an effect on users, according to the Pew survey. In 2004, 77 percent of respondents said spam made the online experience unpleasant or annoying. That number fell to 67 percent in 2005. Only 22 percent of users now report spam has caused them to reduce their use of email, down from 29 percent in 2004.

Viruses

Variants of Netsky continued to dominate the top 10 ranks among major anti-virus/security firms in March. The big four virus families, Netsky, MyDoom, Zafi and Sober, saw a new family entrant this month with the mytob worm. Mytob according to Kaspersky Labs, represents a completely new family of worms. It was first detected on March fourth of this year.

Top 10 Ranking Virus/Malware from Postini, Kaspersky Labs, Sophos and Trend Micro, March 2005.

Top 10 Viruses/Malware From Postini, Kaspersky Labs, Sophos, and Trend Micro, March 2005
Rank Postini Kaspersky Labs Sophos Trend Micro
1 netsky Email-Worm.Win32.NetSky.q W32/Zafi-D HTML_NETSKY.P
2 mime Email-Worm.Win32.NetSky.aa W32/Netsky-P WORM_NETSKY.P
3 bankfraud Email-Worm.Win32.NetSky.b W32/Zafi-B JAVA_BYTEVER.A
4 sober Net-Worm.Win32.Mytob.c W32/Sober-K TROJ_SMALL.SN
5 zafi Email-Worm.Win32.Lovgate.w W32/Netsky-D SPYW_GATOR.D
6 bagle Email-Worm.Win32.Zafi.d W32/Netsky-Z JAVA_BYTEVER.B
7 mydoom Email-Worm.Win32.Zafi.b W32/Netsky-B TROJ_DFC.A
8 lovgate Email-Worm.Win32.Mydoom.m W32/MyDoom-O TROJ_DLOADER.DH
9 new malware-e Email-Worm.Win32.NetSky.d W32/Netsky-C SPYW_GATOR.C
10 mytob Email-Worm.Win32.Mydoom.l W32/Netsky-Q PE_PARITE.A
Source: Postini, Kaspersky Labs, Sophos, and Trend Micro, April 2005

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