Spam not going anywhere anytime soon

Since March 2009, Canadian Pharmacy spam is declining and pharmaceutical spam overall decreased, but much to enterprises’ dismay, spam will not disappear entirely, according to a report by Symantec Corp.

“The concern businesses have is spam is here to stay, other rival businesses take advantage of instability increasing malware to increase botnets,” said Paul Wood, a security analyst with Symantec.

The prevalence of spam also affects enterprises by targeting employees and having an impact on network performance and bandwidth, according to James Quin, analyst at InfoTech Research Group.

From Dec. 25 to Jan. 1, the amount of spam decreased to 33.5 billion to 80.2 billion spam e-mail messages a day.

The decrease in pharmaceutical spam is because spammers only spam when paid, and Spamit, the organization financially backing many forms of spam and sending out pharmacy spam in Canada, was shutdown by the police. Its botnets, networks of infected computers, were also shut down, according to Wood.

“Spam is cyclical. What is popular today because it is effective becomes unpopular tomorrow as it loses effectiveness. Some spam keys on specific current events (like) the Super Bowl, whereas other spam focuses on a common, standard message (such as) pharmacy,” Quin said. “As a particular type loses its effectiveness, spammers stop using it.”

Now 59.1 per cent of spam is pharmaceutical-related, whereas in May 2010, it accounted for 85 per cent of all spam, according to Symantec. Just over 78 per cent of e-mail messages in Canada are spam, and one in 212.3 messages contain malware.

Canadian Pharmacy used to be the dominant e-mail company in terms of pharmaceutical spam. Now, Pharmacy Express is the dominant brand, according to Wood. The amount of spam sent by Pharmacy Express is increasing. Spammers in Canada have also moved into other brands of spam with the shutdown of Spamit.

“Anti-spam techniques now, next week will be ineffective, in a month useless,” Wood said, because spammers continuously update their spam to adapt to new forms of protection. Instead of just security for a company’s e-mail database, enterprises should use a spam defense all across their networks, according to Wood.

“Whether it is via an in-house managed solution, or an outsourced service, all enterprises should be using some form of dedicated spam protection to protect themselves from all types of spam,” Quin said.


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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