Global spam falls to 5 year low

2013-01-24 12:00
Global spam flow is monitored from Kaspersky Lab headquarters in Moscow. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Global spam flow is monitored from Kaspersky Lab headquarters in Moscow. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - Global spam traffic has fallen significantly, according to research by a security company.

Unsolicited e-mail fell to a five-year low in 2012, Kaspersky Lab research found.

"The average for the year stood at 72.1% - 8.2 percentage points less than in 2011. Such a prolonged and substantial decrease in spam levels is unprecedented," Kaspersky said.

The company put the drop down to companies moving toward more effective and legal methods of advertising.

"This drop is the result of a gradual departure of advertisers from spam to other, more convenient and legal means of promoting goods and services," said Darya Gudkova, head of Content Analysis & Research at Kaspersky Lab.

Malicious attachments

Many users also employ spam filters that are getting better at removing undesirable mail that might have malicious attachments or links to harmful websites.

Spammers constantly try to evade protections by changing the word order or using punctuation that might slip through spam detectors.

Despite the drop in overall spam, Kaspersky found that unsolicited mail with malicious attachments remained relatively constant, declining only 3.4%.

The company cautioned against complacency, saying that criminals were as determined to steal user information for financial gain.

"However, that doesn't mean spam is headed the way of the dodo anytime soon: Malicious spam, fraud, and advertising of illegal goods cannot simply or easily migrate to legal platforms, due to their own inherently criminal nature. We expect that the decline in spam volumes in 2013 will be negligible at best," said Gudkova.

Spammers commonly use tactics such as fake personal e-mail with attachments designed to trick users into clicking on a link that downloads malicious programs to a local drive. This enables them to take command of a computer or steal personal information.


"In 2012, they [spammers] expanded their repertoire to include fake messages from a variety of airlines, hotel reservation services, and coupon services," Kaspersky said.

The statistics show that Asia was the leading region for spam distribution, rising from 11.2% in 2011 to 50% in 2012.

China has become a sudden and major source of spam, accounting for 19.5% of the global total, followed by the US at 15.6%.

According to Kaspersky, China wasn't in the top 20 sources of spam in 2011.

- Follow Duncan on Twitter
Read more on:    kaspersky lab  |  cybercrime  |  internet

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