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Commtouch Report: Spam, Malware Continues to Increase in Q1 2013

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Cloud-based security solutions provider Commtouch announced on Thursday it has issued its Q1 Internet Threats Trend Report, which highlights a significant rise in unwanted and dangerous email in the first quarter of 2013.

The report follows a recent joint report by Commtouch and StopBadware that discovered that 40 percent of website owners changed their opinion of their web hosting provider after the experience of a hacked site.

The quarterly report is compiled based on a comprehensive analysis of billions of daily transactions handled by Commtouch’s GlobalView Cloud.

During the first quarter of 2013, an average of 97.4 billion spam emails and 973 million malware emails were sent worldwide each day.

The month of March saw a particularly high volume of spam, with the number of daily spam emails reaching 117.8 billion.

Spam levels doubled between December 2012 and March 2013, while phishing also increased with the number of phishing emails escalating to more than 74 percent in March, compared to the previous December.

Email-borne malware saw the highest levels in Q1 with a 157 percent higher in March than in December. Meanwhile, virus outbreaks saw an increase of 290 percent — the largest part of which occurred in March.

Compared to February, spam levels increased by 41 percent, known malware by 75 percent, and virus outbreaks by 124 percent. Phishing volumes increased by eight percent in March.

The United States was the largest source of spam in the first quarter of 2013, leading the list of spam senders with a share of 9.1 percent of the overall volume. The United States was followed by Belarus (6.5 percent), Spain (5.6 percent), Argentina (5.0 percent) and India (4.3 percent).

“The dramatic rise in the quantity of unwanted and dangerous emails during the first quarter of 2013 shows that email communication is still one of the key attack vectors,” said Avi Turiel, director of threat research and market analysis at Commtouch. “Email is still the most popular communication tool for private users and businesses alike, making it an attractive target for cybercriminals. The rise in both emails with malware attachments and drive-by-attacks also indicates that malware distributors don’t shift their focus from one attack vector to another. To the contrary, they diversify their attack methods in order to increase the efficiency of their campaigns and in order to bypass some anti-spam and antivirus measures.”

The Commtouch Internet Threat Analysis Team regularly publishes related statistics within its report. The full Commtouch Q1 Internet Threats Trend Report can be viewed on its website, along with a summary presentation.

Commtouch recently named James Hamilton to its board of directors.

Talk back: Are you currently offering your customers anti-spam and other security solutions? Do you regularly read Commtouch security reports? Let us know in the comments.

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About the Author

Justin Lee has been a staff analyst with theWHIR since 2004. He writes about a range of web hosting and IT-related issues facing the industry on the WHIR website, as well the print version of the WHIR magazine. Follow him on Twitter @Justin_theWHIR.

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