Spam rates jump in March: IE Internet
by Maxim Kelly
The rate of spam e-mail hitting Irish inboxes grew significantly in the past month, according to the latest figures from hosting firm IE Internet.
Nearly half of all e-mail filtered by IE Internet during March was unsolicited and unwanted spam -- 48.12 percent to be exact.
"This is the biggest we've ever had and we've been doing this for donkeys' years. It's certainly the most over the last 12 moths," IE Internet's Technical Manager Ken O'Driscoll told ElectricNews.Net.
IE Internet includes figures from small and medium sized businesses but excludes figures from enterprise level businesses because O'Driscoll says they skew the results.
"If your average SME receives around 700 e-mails a week -- and half of that is spam -- then the spammers are making a lot of money," said O'Driscoll.
He pointed out that spammers need little infrastructure to run their scams because often they use home computers as "open relays" or zombies after they have been compromised by viruses.
"You can do this spamming from a trailer park with nothing except a computer. By the time you see some spammer being arrested though he's often being led away from a mansion," said O'Driscoll.
Over 31 percent of spam during March originated in the United States, which is regularly the most common source of junk e-mail. However the figure is down compared to recent months and South Korea seems to have taken up the slack. The tiny Southeast Asian country produced 9 percent of last month's spam.
"The Korean government has ensured that each citizen has access to a broadband connection and that must impact on the amount of spam coming from there," explained O'Driscoll.
China was responsible for 5 percent of spam, Australia 6 percent, with Europe and the UK responsible for 3 percent each.
IE Internet also reports that 21 percent of intercepted mail was infected with a virus. According to the firm, there is a correlation between people who write computer viruses and thos who write spam because many viruses secretly transform home computers into zombies.
"It's a whole sub-economy and I can't estimate what it's worth. If anybody did they'd probably be wrong," said O'Driscoll.
"Governments look at it as undeclared income but it's probably more," he said, adding that a lot of legitimate businesses provide ancillary services to spammers and gain revenue from the junk e-mailers.
The most commonly intercepted viruses last month were the Netsky.P (48 percent) Bagle.DW (15 percent), and Mytob.DY (11 percent).
"Somebody always have to pay for these viruses and spam mails whether it's Joe Bloggs who has to get his computer cleaned-up afte a virus attack, or internet service providers who have to pay more to improve their security systems," said O'Driscoll.