Levels of spam increase for a second consecutive month to reach a record high

News by SC Staff

The amount of detected web-based spam has increased once again following a record level being hit in April.

The amount of detected web-based spam has increased once again following a record level being hit in April.


The May 2009 MessageLabs Intelligence Report has revealed that there has been a further increase of 5.1 per cent in the amount of spam on the web since April, and it has now reached a high of 90.4 per cent.


Paul Wood, MessageLabs Intelligence senior analyst at Symantec, claimed that the rise is due to existing attack techniques combining and morphing into one.


“In 2008 CAPTCHA-breaking, social networking spam and the use of webmail for spamming all became popular tactics. Today, the bad guys are using the three together as a triple threat to heighten the effectiveness of their spamming,” said Wood.


The report claimed that the majority of the increase in spam in May was composed of messages with very little content other than a subject line and valid hyperlink. Each hyperlink pointed to a different active profile on one of a number of major social networking environments where the profiles were likely created using random names and automated CAPTCHA-breaking tools.


MessageLabs also claimed that the emails were sent from valid webmail hosting providers, which means they were not spoofed, as has been the case in the past for these types of domains.


The report also showed that geographic location determines when people receive spam. Analysis showed that US residents see spam peak between 9-10am local time and a drop overnight while Europeans are more likely to receive a steady stream of spam throughout the workday. Those in the Asia-Pacific region start their day with an inbox full of spam and see less trickling in throughout the day.


Paul Wood said: “These patterns suggest that spammers are more active during the US working day. This could be because most active spammers are based in the US, according to data from Spamhaus, or because this is when the spammers' largest target audience is online and likely to respond.”

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