Botnets pushing up spam loads; spam now over 80% of all email

Botnet-controlled PCs are responsible for some 83 per cent of all spam messages, according to a recent report.Security firm MessageLabs said in a recent report that despite efforts to shut down service providers notorious for hosting shady operations, spam vendors are continuing to send out huge loads of junk mail through the use of botnet-infected systems. botnets sent over 80% of all June spam
There’s a ton of spam on the Internet — we all are painfully aware of this already. However, what once required an actual person to send is increasingly being taken over by botnets. A new report from Symantec’s MessageLabs says that more than 80 percent of all spam sent today comes from botnets, despite several recent shut-downs. Announces June 2009 MessageLabs Intelligence Report [news release]
Symantec Corp. announced the publication of its June 2009 MessageLabs Intelligence Report. Analysis highlights that spam levels were unchanged since May at 90.4 percent largely due to the several hours of downtime experienced by Cutwail, one of the largest and most active botnets, following the shutdown of California-based ISP, Pricewert LLC (also known as 3FN and APS Telecom) on June 5, 2009. Also in June, MessageLabs Intelligence identified 1 in 78 IM-based hyperlinks point to malicious websites.”Cutwail’s recovery to one-third of its original levels, after only a few hours, highlights the progress spammers have made since the McColo shutdown in November,” said Paul Wood, MessageLabs Intelligence Senior Analyst, Symantec. “Spammers have learned the importance of having a backup for command and control channels.”Spam from botnets accounted for 83.2 percent of all spam in June. The remainder is sent from compromised mail servers and webmail accounts. The image spam MessageLabs Intelligence reported on in May became more sustained in June, accounting for eight to ten percent of all spam. The newest iterations originate from botnets, contain background noise patterns and are delivered as an email attachment rather than hosted remotely.In June MessageLabs Intelligence found that 1 in 405 Instant Messages contained a hyperlink of which 1 in 78 were linked to websites hosting malicious content, an increase of .78 percent over the past six months. At the end of 2008, MessageLabs Intelligence had identified that 1 in 200 hyperlinks shared over public IM applications were malicious. At the current rate, 1 in 80 IM users may expect to receive a malicious instant message each month.By August 17, 2009, the deadline imposed by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are required to issue interim final regulations regarding data breach notification and safeguard requirements for personal health records and certain other consumer health information. The HITECH Act was enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.”As millions of government dollars are currently being invested in the digitization and protection of personal health records, medicine and technology are more intersected than ever,” Wood said. “It’s understandable that organizations across the healthcare sector are feeling the pressure to comply with regulations such as the HITECH Act, their reputation relies on it and with an increasing number of threats aimed at the healthcare sector, these organizations have good reason to be concerned about security.”MessageLabs Intelligence has detected a growing need to safeguard against threats targeting the Healthcare sector. Spam destined for the healthcare sector has risen in recent months and levels may be predicted to rise to 90 percent before the end of 2009. Email-borne malware attacks targeting the healthcare sector have more than doubled since the start of 2009.Other report highlights:Web security: Analysis of web security activity shows that 58.8 percent of all web-based malware intercepted was new in June. MessageLabs Intelligence also identified an average of 1,919 new websites per day harboring malware and other potentially unwanted programs such as spyware and adware, an increase of 67 percent since May.Spam: In June 2009, the global ratio of spam in email traffic from new and previously unknown bad sources was 90.4 percent (1 in 1.1 emails), reflecting no change since May. Spam levels for Q2 2009 averaged 88.7 percent compared with 74.5 percent for Q1 2009.Viruses: The global ratio of email-borne viruses in email traffic from new and previously unknown bad sources was one in 269.4 emails (0.37 percent), an increase of 0.06 percent since May. In June, 10.4 percent of email-borne malware contained links to malicious sites, an increase of 3.4 percent since May. Virus levels for Q2 2009 averaged 1 in 297.4 malicious emails compared with one in 1 in 281.2 in Q1 2009.Phishing:One in 280.4 emails (0.36 percent) comprised some form of phishing attack, almost no change since May. When judged as a proportion of all email-borne threats such as viruses and Trojans, the number of phishing emails had increased by 6.4 percent to 96.1 percent of all email-borne malware threats intercepted in June. Phishing levels for Q2 2009 averaged 1 in 321.4, compared with 1 in 290.4 for Q1 2009.Geographical Trends:

  • Spam levels in France rose by 8.6 percent in June positioning it as the most spammed country.
  • Spam levels in the U.S. declined to 78.4 percent and 72.2 percent in Canada but rose to 90.3 percent in the UK.
  • In Germany, the spam rate reached 96 percent and 93.9 percent in the Netherlands. Spam levels in Australia decreased to 88.8 percent and 67.1 percent in Japan.
  • Virus activity in the Australia rose by 1.29 percent to 1 in 68.8 emails, placing it at the top of the table in June.
  • Virus levels for the U.S. were 1 in 371.7, 1 in 423.7 for Canada. In Germany, virus levels were 1 in 444.0 and 1 in 644.5 for the Netherlands. In Hong Kong virus activity reached 1 in 354.7 and in Japan 1 in 235.7.

Vertical Trends:

  • In June, the most spammed industry sector with a spam rate of 92.3 percent was the Accommodation and Catering sector.
  • Spam levels reached 90.3 percent for the Education sector, and 88.6 percent for the Chemical & Pharmaceutical sector; 90.2 percent for Retail, 90.8 percent for Public Sector and 87.5 percent for Finance.
  • Virus activity in the Education sector declined by 0.10 percent, but retained its place at the top of the table with 1 in 126.7 emails being infected.
  • Virus levels for the IT Services sector were 1 in 358.0, 1 in 493.6 for Retail and 1 in 259.1 for Finance.

The June 2009 MessageLabs Intelligence Report provides greater detail on all of the trends and figures noted above, as well as more detailed geographical and vertical trends. The full report is available at’s MessageLabs Intelligence is a respected source of data and analysis for messaging security issues, trends and statistics. MessageLabs Intelligence provides a range of information on global security threats based on live data feeds from our control towers around the world scanning billions of messages each week.About Symantec
Symantec is a global leader in providing security, storage and systems management solutions to help consumers and organizations secure and manage their information-driven world. Our software and services protect against more risks at more points, more completely and efficiently, enabling confidence wherever information is used or stored. More information is available news release was sourced from:

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