“Even in challenging economic times, spammers continue to plague businesses with unprecedented levels of unsolicited mail and push them to spend valuable bandwidth and resources on dealing with spam,” said MessageLabs Intelligence Senior Analyst, Symantec, Paul Wood.
“For Australian businesses, more than ninety percent of all emails are now unwanted, however as email is the prime communication channel for businesses today, keeping email secure and functional is critical to business success.”
In the Sydney suburb of Auburn, spam levels reached 94.1%, making it Australia’s most spammed suburb.
In Australia, the most spammed areas have higher density of small-to-medium sized businesses. The least effected have the largest companies.
World wide, Sophos discovers 23,500 new infected webpages every day. That’s one every 3.6 seconds, four times worse than in 2007.
“15 new bogus anti-virus vendor websites are discovered every day” states Sophos. .”This number has tripled, up from an average of five detected per day, during 2008”.
“Financially motivated cybercriminals are turning their attention to Web 2.0 platforms such as Facebook and Twitter and alternative programs and tools such as Adobe Flash and PDFs.”
Between four million and six million computers worldwide the globe have been compromised without the user’s knowledge states MessageLabs Intelligence.
“These computers now form robotic networks – Botnets, which are controlled by cybercriminals and used to send out more than 87% of all unsolicited mail, equating to approximately 151 billion emails a day.
89.7% of business email is spam. In September, globally the spam rate is 86.4%, Australia’s spam rate is 90.7%.
“Spammers have preferred professions, with the Engineering and Education sector being top targets globally with spam levels reaching more than 93%” states MessageLabs Intelligence.
In Australia Healthcare has a 93.5% spam rate, Wholesale 92.1%, Minerals/Fuel 91.0%, Professional Services 90.9%
Communication enhancing and information gathering technology has given hackers opportunities to attack businesses.
Sophos receives 40,000 unique suspicious files every day — accounting for 28 unique files every minute, 24 hours a day. Independent testing agency, AV-Test.org, currently counts over 22.5 million unique samples of malware in its collection — compared to 12.3 million in June 2008, demonstrating that the scale of the problem has almost doubled.
The importance of good email security is highlighted by the spread of botnet infections.
“Botnets are now responsible for distributing 87.9% of all spam” states MessageLabs Intelligence.
“Approximately 151 billion unsolicited messages each day being distributed by compromised computers.
MessageLabs lists a number of ISP’s that were closed for hosting botnet activity: September 20, 2008 California Intercage (California) followed shortly after by McColo (California). After which “spam originating from Srizbi, Rustock and Mega-D all took a nosedive. Until then, Srizbi had been responsible for as much as 50% of all global spam”
Following the demise of these ISPs in 2008, additional ISPs were taken down as recently In June Pricewert in the U.S and on August 1,2009, Real Host in Latvia, were closed.
The take-down of Real Host saw spam levels temporarily drop by 38% according to Messagelabs.
“Real host was believed to have hosted the command-and-control centres of the Cutwail botnet (also known as Pandex or Pushdo), which is responsible for about 15 to 20 per cent of the spam sent out worldwide” states the virus bulletin.
Typically websites whose sole purpose is to distribute malware are “reached through redirection scripts and links from other legitimate websites, such as links posted on social networking websites, malicious or compromised banner advertising, hyperlinks posted in spam emails and hyperlinks shared over instant messaging traffic” states messagelabs.
“The typical profile of these sites indicates that they have been registered up to three months before first being blocked for hosting malicious content.” It is no surprise that Google ranks domains registered for more than a year more favourably.
“A relatively large proportion of them (approximately 29%) are taken down after just one day; 40% are removed within two days; and 65% within one week. Generally, 90% of “young” malicious domains are taken down within 38 days.”
To enhance the effectiveness of their short term web life URL-shortening services have been exploited and account for more than 9% of all spam.
However, MessageLabs Intelligence states, “80 percent of domains being blocked as malicious for serving up malware are in fact compromised, legitimate websites”. Removing a young obviously malicious server is relatively easy so it is obvious why a spammer would like to compromise an established site.
How To Stop Spam?
Protect your email address – Be careful where you use your primary email address on the net.
Watch out for the checkboxes –opt out of being contacted by third parties as you don’t know who will get your email address.
Don’t use the reply, remove or forward options – Using these features tells a spammer you are real and validates your email address.
Use an unusual name – An email address with numbers or is less likely to receive spam.
“Spammers often use directories of common names to guess email addresses” states MessageLabs.
Avoid clicking on any links in spam messages – the addresses of links are frequently disguised intending to confirm your existence to spammers. This can also include the unsubscribe links.
Avoid downloading pictures in spam email – Even in the preview pane pictures these can identify you. Block images, or view emails in text format.
Use a Good spam filter – Stop it from getting into your inbox in the first place.
According to the virus bulletin released September 21, Alwil‘s avast!, BitDefender, ESET‘s NOD32, F-Secure, G DATA, MicroWorld‘s eScan and Symantec‘s Norton were top achievers at detecting malicious samples, rated the highest ranking of ‘Advanced+’..
Tested with two sets of malicious samples, split into two sets with one containing sample representing the last 7 months, and the other the preceding twelve months. The results are balanced against false positives.
Ranking highly in the ‘Advanced’ classification were AVG, Avira, Kaspersky, McAfee and Trustport. Avira, McAfee and Trustport had high detection rates but ranked lower because of false alarms.
Microsoft‘s solution, rated as ‘Standard’, Kingsoft, Norman and Sophos ranked only ‘Tested’ Sophos‘ scored low because of a relatively high false positive rate, sated the Virus Bulletin.