Spam, spearheaded by a Storm Worm-related spike in malicious e-card messages, has driven the level of junk messages to more than eight in 10 emails.Researchers at Secure Computing reported a 17 per cent hike in the amount of spam from last Wednesday to Thursday, totaling 89 per cent of all email during that time.
Last week’s spam level was 53 per cent higher than July’s daily average, and 70 per cent above that of June, according to the San Jose, Califonia-based messaging security vendor.
Secure Computing blamed the Storm Worm epidemic and high levels of PDF, Excel and greeting card spam for the nearly unprecedented spam levels.
Dmitri Alperovitch, principal research scientist at Secure Computing, said that spam levels are near those of late December 2006, an all-time high.
"Since the Storm Worm came on the scene around January, it’s been able to create a lot of zombies and it’s been used largely to send out stock-based promotions. And they’re using the greeting cards to send out more viruses, take over the machines and enlarge the botnet," he said. "We’ve been able to tie this to one of the largest spam groups in Russia."
Alperovitch said he expected spam to exceed 90 per cent of all email within the next month.
Last week, researchers from Postini reported that between Aug. 7 and 9, the volume of spam rose from an average of 53 per cent of all email in one day to 175 per cent above normal.
Adam Swidler, senior manager of Postini’s senior marketing group, said last week that a pump-and-dump stock scam sent the total amount of spam up 445 per cent in just one day.
That particular PDF spam attack sent unwanted emails to recipients urging them to buy stock in Prime Time Group Inc., resulting in the artificial inflation of the stock price.
After the price increases, spammers sell the stock they purchased, enabling them to make thousands of dollars a day, according to Postini.
Symantec’s "State of Spam" report for August disclosed that spam using PDF, Excel or other attachments increased during July, while image spam decreased dramatically.