Spam and virus trends according to Google

Postini – the spam engine that powers Google’s e-mail security and archiving services – handles some 3 billion e-mails per day, so it’s fair to say that the statistics derived from the data it aggregates show a rather accurate picture of spam and virus trends.

The analysis of the data for Q3 of this year shows that spam is down by 16% when compared to the numbers of the previous quarter, but that payload virus volume is up by a whooping 42%, making Google’s experts speculate that the spam volumes in Q4 will raise again because the malicious payloads of this quarter are meant to enslave computers into spamming botnets just in time for them to be used during the holiday season.

“With the commercialization of spam in 2006, we’ve often seen a correlation between spam, malware campaigns, and seasonal consumer patterns,” say the specialists. “The actual content of this virus wave consisted mainly of traditional spoofing of major brands, along with a new tactic involving recycling previously sent e-mails taken from the hard drives of infected computers. This new method is more difficult to detect as the wording and content is familiar to the recipient.”

Also back is the trend of embedding malicious shortened URLs into the messages, spammers posing as financial authorities and sending out fake notifications of a rejected or unauthorized transaction, bogus Non-Delivery Reports and e-mails containing “news” of a celebrity death.

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