Spam increases 45% this week

Spam levels started bouncing back this week after a significant decrease in the fourth quarter.

December’s daily average for spam was around 30% less than in September; however spam activity increased by 45% just prior to the report’s publication. The average amount of spam for the fourth quarter of 2010 was 83% of all email sent worldwide, down from 88% in the third quarter.

The number of zombies active in the fourth quarter was on average 15% less than in the previous quarter.

Highlights from the Commtouch report include:

  • Spam levels averaged 142 billion spam/phishing messages per day during Q4 compared to the 198 billion spam/phishing messages per day during Q3.
  • Approximately 288,000 zombies were activated daily, a significant decrease as compared to 339,000 during Q3.
  • The most popular spam topic in Q4 was pharmacy ads (42% of all spam).
  • For the fifth quarter running, pornography/sexually explicit material is the website category most likely to include malware.
  • India keeps its title for the third quarter in a row as the country with the most zombies – 17% of all zombies worldwide.
  • Streaming media/downloads continues to be the most popular topic for blog creators in the Web 2.0 sphere of user-generated content.

During Q4, vintage spam methods were combined with new ones to further increase the potential for successful spam purchases, phishing, and malware installations. Small and hidden fonts were combined with Twitter subject lines and links exploiting Google’s cache service.

This quarter also saw the return of ASCII art spam. As for more “modern” threats, Koobface malware links continued to circulate on Facebook, while, offering content sharing and synchronization services, was used to host spam links.

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