Sustained drop in spam levels

Industry and government efforts have dealt a significant blow to spam, according to a Commtouch report that is compiled based on an analysis of more than 10 billion transactions handled on a daily basis.

This time last year, spam levels were around the 150 billion mark daily, just before the takedown of the Rustock botnet.

Spam levels dropped immediately after that takedown and have continued to decrease ever since. In the first quarter of 2012, an average of 94 billion spam emails were sent per day.

“The sustained decrease in spam over the last year can be attributed to many factors, including: Botnet takedowns, increased prosecution of spammers and the source industries such as fake pharmaceuticals and replicas,” said Amir Lev, Commtouch’s CTO. “However, spam is still four times the level of legitimate email and cybercriminals are increasing their revenues from other avenues, such as banking fraud malware.”

Specific social engineering campaigns of note this quarter focused on the U.S. tax season, targeting both consumers and members of the accounting profession. Facebook remains a popular outlet, with a social engineering campaign featuring “an unwatchable video.”

Additional data from the trend report:

  • Pornographic websites were the category most likely to contain malware
  • Pharmaceuticals and replicas were the most popular spam topics in Q1
  • India keeps its title as the country with the most zombies – 19.2 % of all zombies worldwide
  • 270,000 zombies were activated daily for malicious purposes.

Here’s the report: