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The Deadly Duo - Spam and Viruses - November 2004

  |  December 13, 2004   |  Comments

Holiday season drives a higher than expected spike in spam volume.

Spam volume spiked upward a full 19 percent from October to November, accounting for 88 percent of all email sent in November, according to email security vendor Postini.

Of the 6.9 billion messages processed by Postini in November, nearly 6.1 billion qualified as instances of malicious spam, phishing, viruses, and so-called "directory harvest" attacks, which are attempts to hijack entire corporate email directories via enterprise servers for spamming purposes.

That spike in spam activity went above the expected seasonal increase during the holiday shopping season, said Steve Kahan, vice president of Postini.

"We saw a pretty significant increase in attacks, specifically on small- and medium-sized businesses in November," Kahan said. "Unlike the larger corporations, a lot of small- and mid-sized players don’t have the resources to combat these kinds of attacks."

Spam volume had been on the decline for the two preceding months, falling to 69 percent of all email traffic in October, according to Postini data.

Spam by Country

A new report by anti-spam/virus software company Sophos, meanwhile, finds that the United States continues to lead the world in originating these spam attacks, accounting for over two out of every five (42.1 percent) spam emails sent throughout the world. South Korea was second with just under 14 percent (13.4 percent), followed by China (including Hong Kong), which originated 8.4 percent.

Top Spamming Coutries
Country Percentage
United States 42.1%
South Korea 13.4%
China incl. Hong Kong 8.4%
Canada 5.7%
Brazil 3.3%
Japan 2.5%
France 1.3%
Spain 1.1%
United Kingdom 1.1%
Germany 1.1%
Other 19.6%
Source: Sophos Plc.

Top Viruses of 2004

Among the most prevalent viruses of the year, variants of the Worm/Netsky virus captured five of the top ten slots for 2004. German teenager Sven Jaschen, who reportedly confessed to writing the Netsky and Sasser worms, was responsible for more than 55 percent of all virus reports for 2004.

Top Ten Viruses Reported
to Sophos in 2004
Virus Percentage
Worm/Netsky.P 22.6%
Worm/Zafi.B 18.8%
Worm/Sasser 14.2%
Worm/Netsky.B 7.4%
Worm/Netsky.D 6.1%
Worm/Netsky.Z 3.7%
Worm/MyDoom.A 2.4%
Worm/Sober.I 1.9%
Worm/Netsky.C 1.8%
Worm/Bagle.AA 1.6%
Others 19.5%
Source: Sophos Plc.

Leading Viruses in November

In November, Jaschen’s Worm/Netsky.P virus, eight months after its discovery, was the most widespread, accounting for 26.3 percent of all attacks. Second on the list, was the Worm/Sober.I virus, which although discovered on November 19, accounted for 17.5 percent of virus attacks for the month, according to Central Command.

"Arguably the only major virus outbreak of the fall season, Worm/Sober.I had an immediate impact," said Steven Sundermermeier, vice president of products and services at Central Command.

November 2004 Dirty Dozen
Ranking Virus Name Percentage
1. Worm/Netsky.P 26.3%
2. Worm/Sober.I 17.5%
3. Worm/Bagle.AT 11.6%
4. Worm/Bagle.AP 9.1%
5. Worm/Zafi.B 6.9%
6. Worm/Bagle.AA 4.4%
7. Worm/Netsky.D 2.3%
8. Worm/Netsky.Z 2.2%
9. Worm/Netsky.A 1.8%
10. Worm/Lovgate.W 1.5%
11. Worm/MyDoom.AE 1.1%
12. Tr/Phish.BankFr.eml 0.8%
Others 14.5%
Note: The table above represents the most prevalent
viruses for November 2004, number one being the
most frequent.
Source: Central Command Inc.

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