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Spam Grows Through Image-Based E-Mails

A junk e-mail added with some picture is a great annoyance for the recipient. It may look like an ordinary text message giving tips on shares or advertising Viagra, but with a small, slightly misrepresented picture. That is an image spam, say experts that could bring the internet to a halt in 2007.

The image spam has become widespread in just six months accounting for 35% of all junk e-mail, cites vendor F-Secure. It also takes up 70% of the bandwidth owing to their large file sizes. In addition to this, they take up significant valuable time in filtering out and destroying them. The burden is heavy on IT personnel in enterprises and organizations.

Ordinary computer owners are the easiest targets because they aren't even aware of these attacks and thus end up in letting unnecessarily e-mails fill their inboxes. The image spam attacks are launched through botnets that involve quietly infecting PCs to run them as part of a larger plank of computers to use them for spamming. The massive volume of spam is sent out from these botnets of zombie PCs controlled remotely by spammers.

About 160 million spam mails move out of a typical botnet in just two hours. Last year the circulation of botnet spam rose to 30%. For businesses separately this figure was 50%.

These e-mails mostly contain tips on stock that come from gangs who try to raise prices in what is called "pump-and-dump". They promise cheap stock with lot of earnings. As buyers leap for them the criminal sells all his stocks that also raise the final value.

To combat this new menace are still more efficient filters. The earlier recognized spam filters have been defeated by these new techniques. In the opinion of Mikko Hypponen, Chief Research Officer at F-Secure, apart from technology the people themselves is another major issue to address.

Users can never be free from spam until they stop purchasing the products these e-mails advertise. This is the obvious reason why spam works; otherwise it wouldn't be so widespread, said Hypponen in a company press release.

Related article: Spam Scam Bags a Scottish Connection

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