Massive jump recorded in Irish virus and spam rates

1 Jul 2005

Virus levels in Ireland have almost doubled in the past month, according to new tracker figures released today. Spam rates also rose significantly throughout June, the data shows.

The spike in virus infections saw levels rise to 15.71pc, up from 7.59pc recorded in May. The breakdown of infections by virus type was more evenly spread than usual. According to IE Internet, none of the top five most prevalent viruses cleared more than 20pc. Zafi.D was the most frequently occurring variant, responsible for 16.31pc of infections. It was followed by Mytob.EK (15.78pc); Mytob.DJ (14.84pc); Netsky.P (13.11pc) and Zafi.B (11.77pc). That still leaves 29.19pc accounted for by other viruses – itself a much larger amount than usual.

IE Internet’s data relates to the overall number of infected messages, but many of these email-borne viruses would be stopped by security software before they could attack individual users’ machines.

June saw the largest surge of spam seen for some time, with levels having previously held steady in the mid-thirty percentage rate. According to Ken O’Driscoll, technical director of IE Internet, there is a correlation between the amount of spam and the number of viruses in circulation because some pieces of code such as the Mytob variants allow infected machines to be controlled by an unauthorised third party.

“The .DJ variant has its own SMTP server so it can send out mail on behalf of spammers and .EK has an IRC server that allows hackers to chat to each other without being seen. It also allows remote control of a machine that could involve them setting it up to send spam if they so wish,” he explained.

Normally worm variants such as Netsky, which send themselves to all of the entrants in an infected PC’s email address book, draw little attention to themselves and can remain undetected for some time. O’Driscoll pointed out Mytob or similar viruses tend to be short lived as they cause a computer to send out lots of spam are more likely to be discovered and fixed because the PC’s performance is noticeably affected.

By Gordon Smith