Spam levels up, viruses down in Irish email stats

5 May 2004

Less than 5pc of Irish emails sent in April contained viruses, according to the latest monthly statistics from IE Internet. In percentage terms this was a drop in the rate of infected emails over the previous month.

IE Internet, the Dublin-based mail and hosting company that monitors and measures the rate of viruses and spam on a continuous basis, also found that the rate of spam increased slightly last month to 26.94pc, up from 21.39pc.

Variations on Netsky were the most prevalent worms during April, with the top five recorded incidences coming from .P, .D, .B, .C and .T in that order. Netsky.P was found in 34.71pc of all infected emails, despite having been originally detected in March. In second place, Netsky.D was found in almost a quarter of all infected emails, having been responsible for close to half of all such messages the previous month.

“The figures show that there were no new viruses last month, just the old ones making the rounds,” commented IE Internet MD Phelim O’Connell. More alarmingly, however, is that he said this suggests that users are becoming infected and staying infected, he added. “People don’t seem to be updating their antivirus software. It begs the question: Are the current protection methods working?”

O’Connell pointed out that the rise in spam for April reversed the trend of falling levels that had been seen since December last year. “It’s posing more and more of a problem,” he told The percentage figures don’t even tell the full story because the general volume of email is increasing at a faster rate than the instances of spam, he said. Although unsolicited mails may appear to be at a particular level, the amount of unwanted emails that users must delete is rising all the time.

For that reason, IE Internet is considering a new measurement metric that would give examples of the average amount of spam attacks per email address per month. “That would help to calculate the cost of spam for a typical end-user,” O’Connell said.

To produce its monthly statistics, the company scans the characteristics of every mail that passes through systems. It manages business email accounts for more than 8,000 individual users in Ireland.

By Gordon Smith