Spam comeback prompts fears of more junk mail

1 Feb 2006

January virus levels in Ireland dropped off significantly from December but the rising rate of spam has prompted fears that it could make up half of all emails coming into the country, IE Internet has said.

According to figures released today by the Dublin-based internet service provider, the rate of virus infection in Irish emails last month was 14.15pc, down from an all-time record of 23.43pc in December. One virus alone, Mytob.DY, accounted for a quarter of all attacks with 25.93pc of the total.

Ken O’Driscoll, technical manager with IE Internet, noted that W32/Mytob.DY first appeared in August of last year and clocked in at 15pc. “It dropped from an annual high of 17pc in November 2005 to around 7pc in December so there was an indication that it might be die out,” he told However, he added that January’s figures clearly show that the opposite effect happened.

“There’s nearly a 10pc difference between W32/Mytob.DY and the second most popular virus for January,” O’Driscoll added. This was W32/Netsky.P which was responsible for 15.13pc of infections in January and was the most widely occurring virus of 2005, according to IE Internet.

Spam levels were at 40.48pc in January, broadly consistent with December’s figures of 38.93 and November’s 41.99 tally. With 39.40pc of the total the US appears to be diminishing as a source of spam. South Korea and China, in second and third place respectively, each sent more than 5pc of the unsolicited email coming into Ireland in January.

“The 40.48pc spam figure is worrying because far from seeing the expected decrease after December, it’s actually increased by two whole points,” O’Driscoll said, adding that spam levels increased by around 10pc throughout the whole of 2005. “If that trend continues, the rate of spam affecting Irish businesses could reach close to 50pc before the end of the year,” he said. “This will place an even greater burden on the email infrastructures of small businesses and home users – particularly those that have pay-as-you-use bandwidth.”

By Gordon Smith