Spam reaches highest level in over a year

News by Dan Raywood

Levels of spam have reached an all time high this week.

Levels of spam have reached an all time high this week.

According to Marshal8e6 TRACElabs, levels of spam have continued to rise since the beginning of July and have now shattered the record for the previous high set in July 2008.

The company claims that spam output is up across the board from the major spamming botnets, Rustock and Pushdo. Second-tier botnets such as Grum have also increased their output helping to push spam volumes to the new high.

TRACElabs also reported that phishing activity was up significantly to 1.4 per cent of all spam by volume, representing a seven-fold increase in phishing activity during the month to 19th July.

Marshal8e6 attributes the significant majority of phishing activity to the Pushdo botnet, although only three targeted institutions were the focus of 99.5 per cent of all phishing activity last week – eBay, Comerica and Bank of America.

Phil Hay, TRACElabs lead security researcher, said: “The previous highest period of spam activity was mid-2008. During the third quarter of 2008, spam volumes declined steadily until a dramatic event occurred on November 11, 2008 with the shut-down of the rouge ISP network, McColo, which had been providing hosting services to some of the largest known spam botnets.

“Since that time, spam volumes have been climbing back. In June we saw spam volumes matching the previous highest period from last year and now in July 2009 the spammers have punched through with a wave of spam to set a new record.”

Hay claimed that spammers are sending a clear message that they are unimpeded by the efforts of law enforcement and the security community with the renewed spam activity.

“The spammers have learned much from the shutdown of McColo and have proven this with their almost immediate bounce back after 3FN was disconnected. A more holistic and well planned approach needs to be adopted by law enforcement and the security community working together world-wide to really have a positive and long-lasting impact on reducing spam,” said Hay.

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