Welcome Back Spammers (Not)

Spammers took holiday in the fourth quarter of 2010 but they have returned (in a big way) according to the Commtouch quarterly Internet Threats Trend Report, which covers spam, phishing, malware and Web threats. 

According to the report, December's daily average for spam was around 30% less than in September; however spam activity increased by 45% just prior to the report's publication. The average amount of spam for the fourth quarter of 2010 was 83% of all email sent worldwide, down from 88% in the third quarter. The number of zombies active in the fourth quarter was on average 15% less than in the previous quarter. 

"An inactive botnet is like an idle factory, a money-losing proposition for spammers," said Asaf Greiner, Commtouch vice president of products. "We have seen situations where after a lull in spam or malware distribution a new tactic was introduced. Threat experts are wise to continue following changes in network behavior in order to proactively block new threats."

Other highlights from the report include: 

- Spam levels averaged 142 billion spam/phishing messages per day during Q4 compared to the 198 billion spam/phishing messages per day during Q3.

- Approximately 288,000 zombies were activated daily, a significant decrease as compared to 339,000 during Q3.

- The most popular spam topic in Q4 was pharmacy ads (42% of all spam).

- For the fifth quarter running, pornography/sexually explicit material is the website category most likely to include malware.

- India keeps its title for the third quarter in a row as the country with the most zombies - 17% of all zombies worldwide.

- Streaming media/downloads continues to be the most popular topic for blog creators in the Web 2.0 sphere of user-generated content.