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August Saw Expanded Virus Attacks

Spam occupies 87.72 percent portion of all e-mails, says anti-virus firm SoftScan. The firm also reports that while virus level has doubled from the previous month, it continues to be a small proportion of just 1.02 percent of the total e-mail scanned in August.

SoftScan experts have estimated that phishing malware accounts for 89.5 percent of all viruses scanned. This indicates that phishing e-mails have taken a dramatic jump over the past few months. In July, the distribution of the top five virus groups in terms of phishing attacks looked something like this - (89.5%), Netsky (2.44%), Mytob (2.19%), Bagle (1.42%) and MyDoom (1.22%).

All the three anti-virus firms, Sophos, Fortinet and SoftScan have placed Netsky on the top, next to phishing in August chart. Mytob is third in rank among all viruses detected last month, assesses Kaspersky Lab.

Netsky is a continuously flowing virus i.e., it does not expire on any date. It also does not stay under the umbrella of the anti-virus vendors' radars. These are perhaps the reasons why it has longevity to remain among the top five. But there are concerns that its persistent stay may be due to unprotected PCs.

Several variants of Worm.Stration emerged in August, which have shown minor outbreaks, according to Diego d'Ambra, chief technical officer at SoftScan. This virus has followed a low-key trend of activity.

In fact, the general tendency of overall virus outbreaks recently has not been significant. This is because big companies have employed adequate protection against virus, and people are more familiar with such threats, feels Raschke, senior analyst at Forrester Research. However, cyber crime is taking up sophisticated techniques. They are merging different types of attacks making the attacks even stronger.

The detection of phishing e-mails as malware and as against spam has increased owing to recent improvements of the existing and new developments in anti-virus solutions. This, in the light of high percentage increase of phishing attacks implies that phishing has gone up substantially but mainly due to regrouping them from spam to malware.

It is expected that spam will reduce by some percentage very soon. The increase in legitimate e-mail will then follow.

Related article: August Finds New Additions to Malware

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