The latest Symantec MessageLabs Intelligence Report has landed on my desk and makes for the usual rather depressing reading. I guess that most depressing of all, if not surprising when you take a look at your inbox or worse still your junk folder, are the figures relating to spam activity during May 2009.
It would appear that spam has managed to hit a new low by reaching a new high, and what a high: up 5.4 percent on the previous month to peak at representing some 90.4 percent of all email by volume. That really does suck elephants through a straw backwards, only 1 in every 10 emails not being some unwanted junk mailing. Sigh.
What is odd, however, is the fact that the report reveals the majority of the May increase comprised of messages with hardly any content at all beyond a subject line and a valid URL in the body. Saves having to have it translated into English I suppose. Perhaps not so odd the fact that every URL pointed towards a different, yet active, social networking profile which would appear to have been created using automated CAPTCHA-cracking tools.
“As spam levels continue to increase, we are seeing existing attack techniques combine and morph into one” said Paul Wood, MessageLabs Intelligence Senior Analyst, Symantec. “In 2008 CAPTCHA-breaking, social networking spam and the use of webmail for spamming all became popular tactics. Today, the bad guys are using the three together as a triple threat to heighten the effectiveness of their spamming.”
MessageLabs has also looked into when spam is received, and this would appear to vary depending where in the world you happen to be. US residents see their spam peaking between 9 and 10 in the morning, for example, whereas Europeans are much more likely to get an unrelenting stream of spam throughout the working day. Residents of Asia-Pacific countries start with lots of spam, but it fades off as the day progresses.
“These patterns suggest that spammers are more active during the US working day,” Wood said. “This could be because most active spammers are based in the US, according to data from Spamhaus, or because this is when the spammers’ largest target audience is online and likely to respond.”