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May 6, 2009

Spam falls by 20% 1Q09, before 10% increase in April

Threat trackers chart ups and downs, flag Web 2.0 malware rise

By CBR Staff Writer

Spam volumes have fallen by 20% in 2009 compared with the same quarter a year ago and are 30% below the levels of the third quarter of 2008, which had the highest quarterly volumes recorded to date.

Spam levels are not only 30% below their peak levels but this year did not exhibit the increase that usually happens in March, McAfee Avert Labs said as it released its Threats Report for the first quarter of 2009.

The status check for the first quarter comes only days after MessageLabs said it had tracked a 10% increase in spam over the course of April, however.

According to the latest MessageLab Intelligence Report, spam levels in April rose above the 85% mark for the first time in 19 months. 

In its assessment McAfee has reported that cybercriminals have taken control of almost 12 million new IP addresses since January, a 50% increase since 2008. 

It said the US is now home to the largest percentage of botnet-infected computers, currently hosting 18% of all zombie machines. 

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The company also said it continues to see widespread use of legitimate Web 2.0 and business-related URLs for spreading malware. Social networks continue to offer attackers a popular vector for social-engineering attacks, it warned.

“During this quarter, Koobface variants took thousands of users by surprise as they received the virus from their friends on Facebook. Without the victims’ awareness, the links associated with the virus-sent messages led to websites that distributed the worm. Shortly thereafter their computers contracted the virus and sent infected messages to their circle of friends.”

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