Virus rate up again as spam reaches record levels

2 Mar 2006

Virus and spam levels rose again last month. More than one in six emails circulating in Ireland during February contained some form of malicious code while the rate of spam messages was the highest yet recorded, accounting for almost half of all email traffic.

New data from IE Internet has revealed that, in total, viruses or worms were discovered in 17.15pc of emails last month, up three percentage points from the rate recorded in January. Bagle.DW was the most prevalent strain in February, responsible for 13.39pc of infections.

“Bagle.DW looks like the new kid on the block,” said Ken O’Driscoll, technical director with IE Internet. He pointed out that the latest variant is a distant cousin of the original Bagle strain and was only officially recognized on 2 February so its rise to first place has been fast.

“It spreads via email and peer-to-peer file sharing networks which probably explains the rapid growth. The virus disables traditional desktop-based anti-virus countermeasures so having a multi-tiered anti-virus strategy is advisable,” O’Driscoll told

Netsky.P, a longstanding virus, was in second place with 12.57pc. Mytob.DY, which was the most commonly occurring virus in January, dropped to third place with 11.86pc of all infections.

Spam levels rose significantly by more than six percentage points from January, up to 46.95pc, which is the highest level of junk email recorded since IE Internet began tracking this data in 2003.

O’Driscoll had previously warned that spam levels were in danger of rising this year, having increased by 10pc throughout all of 2005. The decline in the volume of spam being sent from the US continued during February; the country now accounts for slightly over one third of all junk email coming into Ireland.

By Gordon Smith