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New Worm Produces Severe Spam

Spam volume shot up in December 2006 to make a record high of 94 percent e-mail, said a message security company on January 9, 2007.

The continuous surge in spam mails is shaking the credibility of e-mail for enterprises and is cutting on productivity of workers around the world, said Daniel Druker, executive vice president of marketing for Postini. He was making a statement for the company press release published by PRnewswire on January 10, 2007.

Postini estimated the spam portion of total Internet e-mail traffic to have reached a peak of 94 percent in December last year. The company stopped 25 billion spam mails sent to 36,000 clients the same month that was 144 percent more than that of December 2005.

In December 2006, hackers released the 'Happy New Year' worm to continue to demonstrate creativity and skill in unleashing a widely prevalent social engineering based e-mail virus. This massive attack alone raised the daily number of e-mail borne-viruses on the weekend of New Year by a factor of twenty. The Happy New Year worm also called Mixor and Nuwar applied social engineering tactics to turn to people's expectations of New Year greetings from family and friends. The Happy New Year worm aimed to capture private data and to control recipients' PCs to convert them into zombies to construct botnets. Botnets are used to spread voluminous spam and viruses.

Spam is more than a simple botheration when it takes unprecedented proportions, Druker said. When businesses have to clear spam, a 15-minutes exercise per day can cost them $3,200 per employee per annum. That entails tens of billions of dollars of productivity drain.

According to Postini spam levels are likely to continue to grow during 2007 as more PCs connect to high-speed broadband. Attackers typically target those machines to compromise, hijack and add to botnets.

Sophos reported the 'Dref' mass-mailing worm as the top virus of December 2006. It was first seen in July 2005 but sent out as New Year's e-card in 2006. The virus infected e-mails by 94 percent of all bad mails on December 31 2006, figured the anti-virus vendor.

Related article: New Zealand Releases Code To Reduce Spam

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