9 out of 10 e-mails Now Spam

Criminal gangs using hijacked computers are behind a surge in unwanted e-mails peddling sex, drugs and stock tips. The number of "spam" messages has tripled since June and now accounts for as many as nine out of 10 e-mails sent worldwide, according to U.S. email security company Postini. As Christmas approaches, the daily trawl through in-boxes clogged with offers of fake Viagra, loans and sex aids is tipped to take even longer. "E-mail systems are overloaded or melting down trying to keep up with all the spam," said Dan Druker, a vice president at Postini. His company has detected 7 billion spam e-mails worldwide in November compared to 2.5 billion in June. Spam in Britain has risen by 50 percent in the last two months alone, according to Internet security company SurfControl.

The United States, China and Poland are the top sources of spam, data from security firm Marshal suggests. About 200 illegal gangs are behind 80 percent of unwanted e-mails, according to Spamhaus, a body that tracks the problem. Experts blame the rise in spam on computer programs that hijack millions of home computers to send e-mails. These "zombie networks", also called "botnets", can link 100,000 home computers without their owners' knowledge. They are leased to gangs who use their huge "free" computing power to send millions of e-mails with relative anonymity. While "Trojan horse" programs that invade computers have been around for years, they are now more sophisticated, written by professionals rather than bored teenagers. "Before it was about showing off, now it's about ripping people off," said SurfControl's Harnish Patel. Spam costs firms up to $1,000 a year per employee in lost productivity and higher computing bills, according to research published last year.

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8 Comments

not if you use yahoo mail and stay away from the pr0n sites that take you in circles.

also, someone should create a program or worm to infect vulnerable computers that are most likely already hijacked, and instead of doing bad, it would plug all the holes, remove all the spyware, and notify the user that their computer is has been hijacked and should get it checked out.

Sometimes I can't understand why they spam us. Most spam emails I receive don't have any links, attachments, ads or anything that would bring them profit. Just stupid non-sense emails. I would lock up all spammers for the rest of their life.

For reference, I run a small mail server, only 6 people with email accounts and couple of automated emails for our various webpages(order confirmations and so forth). I just see a small fraction of what the global problem is, but hopefully some of these numbers will let people know just how bad it is, most only see their inbox, not what hits the mail server behind the mail box.

A few weeks ago, I installed POPFile and have been tracking its progress(for its effectiveness). Since October 25th, 83% of our mail is spam. Close to 22,000 spams. I'm set up with spamhaus and a few other block lists plus I've got 63,000 some odd ip addresses in my ip block list(ones that have sent me spam before, I add a couple of times a day based on what pops into my spam folder..what I've been doing for months, I have several ranges in there so the actual count being blocked is much higher). I have no statistics as to how many spams these block, but, standing, watching the server, its probably another 50% of the incoming spam. I also have 4,500 some odd subject/server filters that block connections.

Its a hell of a lot of spam and its getting worse, even with all the addresses being blocked, the first week I got 3,621 pieces of spam, second week 3,671, third week 5,539, last week 5,969(I wrote about it on my blog last week, so I had these numbers handy). I also only had 45,000 ip's blocked when I started with POPFile(the biggest advantage has been that my users haven't been getting the spam and just deleteing them, I can actually block the computer that sent them).

If only I had a few million dollars laying around to where I could hire some CIA Black Ops guys to hunt down the spammers and take them out one by one.

We need a MOST WANTED list for spammers, with a WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE underneath it.

Also, any one who sends FWDs to like 50 people and still doesn't know what BCC field is for needs to be kicked in the throat... since 40 of those 50 are going to hit FWD and send it off to 50 people and so on and so forth and when it hits a spammer's harvester account, they have a few thousand verified email addys.

I been just getting them from one email address from my isp that I have never used. I think they have been sending them to me.

Have a look at K9 (http://keir.net/k9.html) Bayesian Spam Filter. This is what I use for getting rid of spam. It unfortunately does not delete the spam from your mail-server, but it will filter out the good from the rubbish. Been using it for a few weeks now, and with the statistics page you can see how well the program is doing. I'm currently at 96% effective. Plus its freeware.

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