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Spam traffic in email hits a 5-yr low

Main reason behind decrease in spam volume is overall heightened level of anti-spam protection, says Kaspersky Lab

Shivani Shinde  |  Mumbai 

The share of spam in email traffic decreased steadily throughout 2012 to hit a five-year low. The average for the year stood at 72.1% -- 8.2 percentage points less than in 2011. Such a prolonged and substantial decrease in spam levels is unprecedented, said security solutions firm Kaspersky Lab.

The main reason behind the decrease in spam volume is the overall heightened level of anti-spam protection. Another factor behind the falling levels of spam is inexpensive advertising on legal platforms. Spam is the use of electronic messaging system to send unsolicited bulk emails.

“This drop is the result of a gradual departure of advertisers from spam to other, more convenient and legal means of promoting goods and services. However, that doesn’t mean spam is headed the way of the dodo anytime soon: malicious spam, fraud, and advertising of illegal goods cannot simply or easily migrate to legal platforms, due to their own inherently criminal nature. We expect that the decline in spam volumes in 2013 will be negligible at best,” said Darya Gudkova, Head of Content Analysis & Research Kaspersky Lab.

With the emergence of Web 2.0, advertising opportunities on the Internet have skyrocketed: banners, context-based advertising, and ads on social networks and blogs.

In spite of the drop in the overall percentage of spam in mail traffic, the proportion of emails with malicious attachments fell only slightly to 3.4%. This is a very large percentage, considering that this number reflects only emails with malicious attachments and ignores other spam emails containing links to malicious websites.

Meanwhile, the range of different subjects used in malicious emails was impressive in 2012. Previously malicious users relied on fake notifications from hosting services, social networks, delivery services, and messages from financial and government organizations. In 2012, they expanded their repertoire to include fake messages from a variety of airlines, hotel reservation services, and coupon services.

In terms of geography origination of spam, 2012 saw some major changes. China, which was not even in the top 20 sources of spam in 2011, took first place in 2012, accounting for 19.5% of all unsolicited mail. Spam originating in the US increased 13.5 percentage points, to 15.6% - enough to take second place.

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First Published: Mon, January 21 2013. 15:22 IST