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Report: Spam Levels Rise For Fifth Month In A Row

The surge of unwanted e-mail associated with Valentine's Day helped boost February's spam levels, and the number of new viruses also increased.

Sharon Gaudin

March 1, 2007

2 Min Read

For the fifth straight month, spam levels continued their upward trek, accounting for 77.8% of all e-mail sent in February.

MessageLabs' Intelligence Report for February shows that Valentine's Day and the surge of spam and hoaxes it brought with it this year, greatly contributed to the amount of spam that went out last month. The holiday even brought its own round of not-so-sweet malware.

"While it is routine to see the bad guys use seasonal tactics to exploit unsuspecting targets, the recent rise in Valentine's Day specific malware proves it is still effective," said Mark Sunner, chief security analyst at MessageLabs, in a written statement. "Although it is commendable that global law enforcement agencies are attempting to address the spam and botnet issue, we are likely to see the spammers continuing to innovate both in terms of targeting and with new techniques to reach the end user."

Last week, a report showed that if a renewed surge in spam continues on this track, 90% of all e-mail will be spam by the end of the year. A flood of spam coming out of China and South Korea is fueling a 30% jump in spam levels in just the past week, according to the Australia-based Marshal's Threat Research and Content Engineering Team. It reports that spam volume is at its highest peak ever, increasing 280% since just last October.

MessageLabs also reported in its Intelligence Report that one in 112.9 e-mails last month contained a virus. That's an increase of .05% from January. Analysts at the messaging security company also calculated that 43.9% of all malware intercepted in February was new on the Internet.

While spam and viruses were on the rise, phishing took a slight downturn.

One in 203.7 e-mails was a phishing attack in February. MessageLabs estimates that 55.4% of all malicious e-mails intercepted in February were phishing attacks. That shows a decline of 0.8% on the previous month.

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