Symantec Report Finds Spam Accounts for 73 Percent of June Email

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Security firm Symantec ( announced on Tuesday that it has released its intelligence report for June 2011, combining for the first time research from its MessageLabs Intelligence Report and the Symantec State of Spam and Phishing. The report finds that spam is at its lowest level since November 2008.

According to the report, spam accounted for nearly 73 percent of email in June and more than 75 percent of this spam was sent by botnets. The global ratio of spam in email traffic decreased by 3 percent since May 2011.

“Despite the decrease in botnet spam this month, they should still be considered a dangerous force on the Internet. Cybercriminals continue to use botnets to conduct distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS), carry out fraudulent click-thrus on unsuspecting websites for financial gain, host illegal Web site content on infected computers, harvest personal data from infected users and install spyware to track victims’ activities online,” Paul Wood, senior intelligence analyst, said in a statement.

Symantec says that spam relating to pharmaceutical products accounted for 40 percent of all spam in June. The report finds adult spam continues to grow.

“Spam remains a huge problem and spam levels continue to be unpredictable. Following the disruption of Rustock in March, approximately 36.9 billion spam emails were in circulation each day during April. This number rose to 41.7 billion in May, before falling back to 39.2 billion in June,” May added. “During the same period last year, spam accounted for 121.5 billion emails in global circulation each day, equivalent to 89.3 percent of email traffic in June 2010. Over a twelve month period, a drop of 68.7 percent in volume resulted in a fall of only 16.4 percentage points in the overall global spam rate.”

According to the report, a new spam tactic being used by pharmaceutical firms is using the prefix “Wiki” to promote fake pharmaceutical products.

Saudi Arabia was the most spammed country, according to Symantec, with a spam rate of 82 percent. In the US, 74 percent of email was spam. 72 percent of email in Canada was spam.

Phishing levels in the US were 1 in 1,270 and virus levels for email-borne malware were 1 in 805.

The public sector was the most targeted by phishing activity in June, with 1 in 84 emails containing a phishing attack.

The full report can be downloaded in PDF format here.

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