Volume of spam declines but not its criminality

The Symantec Intelligence Report said last month that global spam is now at the lowest level since 2008 when several major bulk emailers were closed down. However, the company noted that one reason is because spammers are targeting social media sites. Spammers also are focusing in on mobile media, like iPhones.

The Kaspersky Lab Security News Service said that spam still accounts for over 80 percent of global emails.

For the first time in recent memory, the United States is no longer among the world’s premier spam distributors, and the United States isn’t even in the top 10, according to an August report from Kaspersky Lab. That’s because some major U.S. spammers have been stopped, the lab said.

However, India, Indonesia, Brazil, Peru and Ukraine were the top producing countries in a Kaspersky survey, which ran from April through July.

Recent reports by companies that track spam show large amounts coming from Russia.

Nearly 60 percent of global spam is produced in only 10 countries, increasingly located in Asia and Latin America, Kaspersky said.

Spamcop.net showed a major reduction in spam messages since the first of the year. From 40 messages per second in January to just 10 a second in December, based on spam traps that the company maintains.

Much of the spam has crooked goals. Some seek to infect computers by tricking a user into opening an attached file. The computer will then be used to send more spam under the control of the spammer.

Some messages are just theft attempts, like those offering cheap prices on electronic products. Others purport to come from Russian beauties desperate to meet the spam recipient.

Increasingly, spam is showing up in many more languages, including Spanish.

Some spams seek to steal passwords from Facebook, bank accounts and Pay Pal. These are called phishing, and Kaspersky said that Pay Pal remains the main target of spammers with 62 percent of the phishing attempts the company logged.

Spammers, of course, steal email addresses even if they have not hacked the accounts. They send out emails that might damage the reputation of reliable firms. Google and Yahoo maintain active anti-spam efforts, but some expats here have reported that their yahoo accounts have been hacked by spammers.

The impact on legitimate email marketing efforts cannot be determined, but it is large. Many email users will not open messages from persons who they do not know, and many will not permit graphics to load. And attachments and invitation to view YouTube videos always are suspect.

One sophisticated spam purports to be a reply from an anti-spam service and says that the recipients previous email will not go through unless a link is clicked or a Web page is visited. Of course, that is just a way to infect a computer.

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