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Winning the battle against junk mail... but the cyber war continues

Winning the battle against junk mail... but the cyber war continues
21st July 2015

by Shannon Greenhalgh

Headlines are constantly reminding us about the risks of cyber attack, but there's one area in which we might just be winning the battle -- spam, reports the BBC.

According to IT security firm Symantec, fewer spam emails are being sent than at any time in the past 12 years. During June, fewer than 50% of the emails scanned by the firm were junk – the lowest percentage it had seen in over a decade.

The amount of junk email being sent has been in decline for some time. However, this is the the first time since 2003 that it has dipped below 50%, said Ben Nahorney in the firm's report.

Legal action against botnets, the criminal networks behind the spam messages, has been successful in diminishing the problem.

In the last ten months, police forces in the UK have helped take down seven separate botnets – many of which funnelled spam to victims. In addition, European internet providers are supporting these efforts by sharing information about botnet activity in order to limit their effectiveness.

There's more good news, too: phishing for passwords and email with malware attached also declined in June according to Symantec's monthly threat report.

However, another threat is on the rise. There has been a significant rise in the amount of malware variants being produced, says the firm. It recorded approximately 57.6 million individual pieces of malware in June, almost double April's figures.

Ransomware is becoming an increasingly popular mode of attack. Last month Symantec caught almost 500,000 attacks based around this type of malware.

"Attackers are simply moving to other areas of the threat landscape," wrote Nahorney.

Andrew Conway, research analyst at security company Cloudmark, is less confident about Symantec's junk email claims. "We are in a constant arms race with spammers continually coming up with new techniques that we have to deal with, and it would be hubris to declare victory," he commented.


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