Latest intelligence report on spam, malware and phishing

MessageLabs announced the results of its MessageLabs Intelligence Report for March 2008. Analysis highlights that the prolific Storm botnet is responsible for 20 percent of all spam in the first quarter of 2008, with messages selling male enlargement drugs accounting for 41 percent of its efforts. In addition to spam, MessageLabs has intercepted more than four million emails from the Storm botnet since January containing links to malware or aimed at launching phishing attacks.

Other nostalgic events within the spam landscape this month include the appearance of stick-man art within a new image-spam campaign. The amateur-looking artwork, advertising the weight loss drug Hoodia, is the first of its kind and although the spam run looks the same, the images and subject lines frequently change in order to evade traditional signature detection.
MessageLabs Intelligence also highlights the change in the perception of social networking sites within the business environment with 11 percent of companies now blocking access specifically to Facebook compared to three percent who have pro-actively set up rules to allow access.

Other report highlights:

Web Security: Analysis of Web security activity shows 9.2 percent of all web-based malware intercepted was new in March. MessageLabs also identified an average of 595 new sites per day harboring malware and other potentially unwanted programs such as spyware and adware.

Spam: In March 2008, the global ratio of spam in email traffic from new and previously unknown bad sources was 73.8 percent (1 in 1.36 emails), an increase of 1.1 percent on the previous month. Spam levels for Q1 2008 are 1.1 percent lower than Q4 2007 and 3 percent lower than Q1 2007, but 14.1 percent higher than the same period in 2006.

Viruses: The global ratio of email-borne viruses in email traffic from new and previously unknown bad sources was 1 in 169.2 emails (0.59 percent) in March, a decrease of 0.36 percent since the previous month. Virus levels for Q1 2008 are 0.72 percent higher than for Q4 2007 and 0.06 percent lower than Q1 2007. Virus levels are 1.47 percent lower than the same period in 2006.

Phishing: March saw a decrease of 0.57 percent in the proportion of phishing attacks compared with the previous month. One in 228.7 (0.44 percent) emails comprised some form of phishing attack. When judged as a proportion of all email-borne threats such as viruses and Trojans, the number of phishing emails had fallen by 13.5 percent to 74 percent of all email-borne malware threats intercepted in March. Phishing levels for Q1 2008 are almost unchanged since Q4 2007. Compared with Q1 2007, phishing levels are 0.14 percent higher and 0.34 percent higher than Q1 2006.

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