Viruses lurking in almost one in ten recent Irish emails

1 Apr 2004

Viruses accounted for more than 8pc of all Irish emails during March, according to figures from the mail and hosting company IE Internet. Worryingly however, the rate of virus attacks grew by almost 75pc over February.

Variations of the Netsky worm alone were responsible for more than 91pc of attempted virus attacks on Irish users in March. Netsky.D accounted for almost half of all attacks with 46.31pc. In all, four of the top five places were occupied by versions of Netsky: in second place, .B was found in 19.88pc of cases, followed by Netsky.P (16.46pc) and Netsky.C (8.61pc). Bagle.J was in fifth place with 1.92pc.

Phelim O’Connell, managing director of IE Internet, said: “Netsky has got to be one of the most prolific attacks, although the earlier MyDoom worm managed to spread around the net much faster.”

O’Connell said he was concerned that the rate of attacks had risen so sharply since February. “Even if it was to increase by half that amount every month, if you were to look at it in a year’s time, the internet could grind to a halt. The sheer volume of email traffic around the internet is massive and the volume of bad mail is being transported along with the good mail.”

According to IE Internet’s figures for March, released today, more than one in five messages is spam, or unsolicited commercial email. The March figure of 21.39pc appears to represent a drop from the February amount of 24.62, which at first glance might lead to the conclusion that a combination of legislation and court cases are aiding the fight against spammers.

However there was actually more spam sent last month than previously. This is because the amount of valid mail almost doubled, O’Connell explained. For that reason, although the spam rate appears lower as a percentage, Irish internet users would have found themselves deleting more spam mails in March than they had done previously.

IE Internet does not release exact tallies for the amount of messages it carries on its system, but the company handles business email accounts for more than 8,000 individual users in Ireland. Every one of the mails sent to these addresses is scanned to produce the monthly statistics.

The main sources of spam were found to be the US, China, Republic of Korea and Canada. The US was clearly the worst offender, accounting for 56.71pc of all spam mails. China and Korea were responsible for 3.87pc and 3.78pc respectively. These findings broadly tally with recent global statistics.

By Gordon Smith