Spam rate rises but viruses fall over past month

4 Jan 2005

Virus infections in Irish emails dropped off significantly during December but the rate of spam increased and now stands at almost 40pc of all email traffic, according to data from IE Internet.

Last month’s virus rate was 9.92pc, significantly lower than the rate of 17.1pc recorded in November and 18.9pc in October. The December figures show a return to previous levels in or around the 10pc mark.

The five most prevalent viruses identified by IE Internet’s scan were Zafi.D (49.56pc), Sober.J (28.87pc), Netsky.P (12.73pc), Zafi.B (11.52pc) and Netsky.B (6.99pc). Zafi.D entered the chart in top spot without having been listed before. In doing so it eclipsed Zafi.B, which had been the most frequently occurring virus in October and November and had held either of the top two places on the chart since June.
Second-placed Sober.J, a mass-mailing worm, had been earmarked as one to watch as it had only been identified as recently as 19 November. It jumped from 7.17pc in November’s figures to almost 30pc within a matter of weeks, showing a very high infection rate. Unlike many other viruses, Sober.J does not exploit any known security vulnerabilities and it doesn’t always behave in a way that would identify it to traditional antivirus scanners.

Meanwhile the rate of spam rose to 39.35pc of emails, IE Internet found. This was a notable increase on the November statistics, which showed that 29.5pc of emails circulating in Ireland were unsolicited commercial email. As ever, the US is the largest single source of spam email, but at 49.85pc for the month, has dropped substantially down from November levels. Then, 86.18pc of messages containing spam originated there.

By Gordon Smith