Lavasoft News - January 2007

Spam - Taking Over our E-mail Inboxes

It is highly unlikely you can go an entire week without getting dozens of spam e-mail messages in your inbox.

Statistics from e-mail security firm Postini show that nine of 10 e-mails sent worldwide today are considered spam.

"E-mail systems are overloaded or melting down trying to keep up with all the spam," said Dan Druker, Vice President at Postini.

In November alone, Druker's company detected seven billion spam e-mail messages worldwide compared to 2.5 billion just a few months earlier.

SurfControl claims the volume of spam in the UK alone increased by 50 percent between September and November of 2006. The major increase in spam was partially attributed to the Stration e-mail virus that made the rounds last summer.

The European Union is calling on its nations' governments to step up their fight against spam, spyware and other illegal online activities.

An EU report found that only two countries - the Netherlands and Finland - had shown results since enforcing a 2002 law cracking down on spam.

"Spam mail has been cut by 85 percent in the Netherlands, thanks to Dutch authorities handing out fines to businesses that send spam," said Martin Selmayr, spokesperson with the EU.

In Finland, strict filtering measures reduced spam from 80 percent to 30 percent.

The EU report says these unsolicited e-mails are becoming increasingly "fraudulent and criminal"; so-called phishing e-mails are designed to lure users into releasing their sensitive data. Zombie-networks, which are able to link to as many as 100,000 home computers at a time, are being blamed for the rise in spam. They are leased to people who in turn send millions of spam messages.

The US, which has long been the largest spam-sending country in the world, looks like it is set to be overtaken by China. The United States currently accounts for nearly 27 percent of unsolicited e-mails, and China 26 percent.

"The United States is continuing to decline as a source of spam e-mails," Ken O'Driscoll of IE Internet told ENN. "We've been predicting this for some time as US-based spammers are actively off-shoring their operations to avoid tough US anti-spam laws."

The EU and the US have agreed to tackle spam through joint enforcement initiatives, and explore ways to fight against illegal spyware and malicious software.

European officials also plan to put forth new legislation strengthening user privacy and security sometime later this year.


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Spam Stats
1971 The first e-mail was sent by the computer engineer Ray Tomlinson
50 billion Number of e-mails sent every day
45 billion Number of e-mails from spammers
$50 billion The cost in lost productivity and expenses to fight spam in 2006
Source: The Times Online

Term of the Month
Internet lore claims the term spam gets its name from the well-known Monty Python sketch set in a café where every dish comes with the tinned-meat product Spam! A spam e-mail message is defined as being both unsolicited and bulk.

Forum Spam
Lavasoft's forums administrator CalamityJane deals with spam on a daily basis. She actually bans about 100 spammers per month. "Our forums do employ prevention measures such as requiring e-mail validation of new members and the CAPTCHA security routine, plus we have ban filters in place to minimize the amount of spam posts in the forums. It continues to be a problem and users need to be aware of precautions they should take when encountering forum spam posts (do not click on links or attachments). Report any spam to a Forums Administrator," she says.

Read more about Forum Spam at Wikipedia and take advantage of CalamityJane's expertise in the Lavasoft Support Forums today.

Tech Tips
If you have received e-mails that are just filled with gibberish, but do not require you to click on anything, they are designed to get you to mark them as spam and confuse your Bayesian spam filter (uses statistical methods to classify messages as spam). It may be wise to use your web mail account to delete all junk mail before opening up Outlook or Outlook Express.

Letter to the Editor
This is the first newsletter (December Lavasoft News) that I have received from you and it's very informative. Thanks for all of the new info.
There's so much out there that you don't know who to believe. You seem to put it in some order.

Maryann Garrett
Rison, Arkansas, USA

Lavasoft AB
Lilla Bommen 1
411 04 Gothenburg

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