Analysis of 1 billion spam messages

Project Honey Pot, an international community of web and email administrators that joined their forces to track and stop online fraud and abuse, has decided it was time to share some of their findings with the public.

The occurrence that spurred them into action was the receipt of the billionth spam email since the start of the Project in 2004.

So, what did they discover during this 5 year period?

1. They estimate that every time they receive a spam message, 125,000 additional users are targeted. That means that around 125 trillion spam emails have been sent since the Project started with its work.

2. It is very difficult to pinpoint the countries where spammers reside, because they use spambot machines located everywhere around the world and cover their tracks well. So, the information about the origin of all this spam can only indicate the strength and effectiveness of a country’s security policies. By dividing the number of bot machines in a country with the number of security professionals that work within it, they came up with a list of top 10 countries with best and worst IT security.

The best are (starting with first place): Finland, Canada, Belgium, Australia, Netherlands, United States, Norway, New Zealand, Sweden and Estonia.

The worst (also from top to bottom): China, Azerbaijan, South Korea, Colombia Macedonia, Turkey, Viet Nam, Kazakhstan, Macau and Brazil.

3. Since the Project’s inception, the number of active bots has nearly quadrupled every year.

4. Still interested in where spammers are located, they rationalized that machines that harvest email addresses are more likely to be closely connected to his actual location.

Here is a list of top 10 countries in which these machines are found: USA, Spain, Netherlands, United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, Romania, Great Britain, China, South Africa and Germany.

5. There is a difference between spammers who send product spam and those who send phishing and “advanced fee” scams. The time that passes from the moment the address is harvested to the moment the spam is sent is much longer for the first group. They also hold on to the addresses longer. The “fraud” spammers usually send the spam and discard the addresses almost at once.

6. Monday is the day of the week when most spam is sent. Saturday is the slowest day for spammers.

7. Peak hours for spam sending are from 6 to 8 am EST (that’s GMT -0500):

8. Pharmaceutical spam is the most used among the product spammers. Banks and financial institutions lead the list when it comes to phishing scams, but social networks are catching up.

9. Email filtering technologies are getting better every day, and are doing a great job at stopping spam from reaching users’ inboxes. The future of spam is comment spamming.

For more in depth details, you can go here.

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