Spam Increases from New Sources, on Social Networking Sites

MessageLabs has announced the results of its annual intelligence report for 2006, examining trends seen in the last year. The report highlights the relentless escalation of spam activity in 2006, with the average spam level for the year at 86.2 percent of e-mail traffic. This number was driven by increasing sophistication of botnets and targeting techniques.

MessageLabs reports that in 2006, 63.4 percent of spam came from new and unknown sources.

“The one thing that spammers rely on is botnets, the robot networks where they’ve created Trojans that have been installed on people’s computers without their knowledge, and they can use those computers remotely, en masse, to send out their spam,” said Paul Wood, MessageLabs senior analyst. “Over time, those computers become identified, either by the ISP hosting them or by organizations such as Spamhaus, and they will then appear on a block list. So, the value of those computers actually goes down, and the need to create new ones increases, and that’s why there’s a constant life cycle of the botnets moving around.”

Spam attacks carried out on social networking sites such as MySpace became much more prevalent and frequent in 2006. MessageLabs expects these to continue because of useful and accessible contact information and user interests contained in member profiles, making it easy to launch targeted attacks.

Attacks on such sites, however, do require an actual person to create an account and direct the attack.

“At the moment, it seems to…



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