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SPAM Continues To Dominate eMail

Posted: 26th Jan, 2005 By: MarkJ
Postini, an e-mail security group, has today released its annual report into issues such as SPAM (junk mail) and viruses. Sadly the unpleasant results will come as little surprise:

The findings show that even as attention to the cost and prevention of spam reached a high point in 2004, threats to email systems grew worse as the incidence of spam remained at 75-80 per cent of email. Virus attacks also grew threefold, and directory harvest attacks (DHAs) continued to plague corporate email servers.

Highlights of report findings for 2004 include:
• Smaller companies, such as those with 100 users or less, received up to 10 times more spam per user than large businesses (10,000 users or more)

• Certain industries, including publishing, advertising, legal, and real estate, received more than 10 times the amount of spam per user per day than organisations in banking, financial, manufacturing, electronics, food & beverage, and pharmaceuticals

• The average company experienced 150 directory harvest attacks per day, making this type of attack the least visible and most underreported threat in 2004

• Virus infected emails tripled as a percentage of all email, encompassing 1.5 per cent of all emails in 2004, up from 0.5 per cent in 2003

• As much as 1 per cent of all spam is some variety of phishing, a particularly threatening act of sending email apparently from legitimate senders to trick users into revealing their passwords or confidential information

• More than one third of all spam is sent by zombie networks that use innocent victims’ computers as a conduit for delivering spam to others

“What we’re seeing is a profound increase in the sophistication and incidence of tactics designed to fool conventional anti-spam filters,” said Scott Petry, founder and senior vice president of products and engineering at Postini. “Spammers are also finding smaller companies more susceptible to attack since they typically have fewer and less sophisticated defences in place than larger enterprises.”

The report reveals that DHA attacks are alarmingly widespread, with the average attack consisting of 250 invalid email deliveries attempts. The result is that the average company is plagued by almost 40,000 invalid delivery attempts per day.
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