Spam levels continue to rise says Symantec

The research from IT security firm Symantec found that many of the communications - potentially including email marketing materials - now originate in the Asia Pacific in particular.

However, 28% of malicious emails come from European users, the firm reported, highlighting the `benefits' of spam authors partnering with a sympathetic web hosting provider.

In its November report, Symantec said that the number of phishing incidents increased by 17% over October, with the majority of UK-based attacks being linked to banking or financial services websites.

The good news, Infosecurity can report, is that whilst overall spam levels are soaring, most ISPs are now actively filtering out the bulk of spam at the tier one level, meaning that the vast majority of spam never actually reaches end users.

Despite this, the spam market is changing as a new generation of `spam princes' are rising as the Asia Pacific and Japan, as well as South America, and have now surpassed North America, with 23 and 22% respectively, of global spam originating from these regions, Symantec said.

The vendor's November report also claimed to show that users of social networking websites are coming under increased attack from malware and phishing, with Facebook identified as a prime target for cyber criminals.

Amanda Grady, Symantec's principal analyst, said that rising spam levels originating from South America, Asia Pacific and Japan are not altogether surprising when you consider the massive growth of internet connections in these regions.

"Meanwhile, the increased threats to social networking websites is interesting because it shows spammers are hiding behind the reputation and brand trust built by legitimate companies", she said.

"Social networking sites that have a large user base will continue to be targets of malicious and phishing emails", she added.

Delving into the study reveals that, during October 2009, an average of 1.9% of all spam messages contained malware. This equates to a 0.6% increase from September 2009 when the number of messages containing malware hit a maximum of 4.5% of all spam.

Researchers also found that more than 97 Web hosting services were used for spam, which accounted for 8% of all phishing attacks; a decrease of 19% in total web host URLs when compared to the previous month of September.

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