Security researchers had a nice, quiet beginning to the 2011 year thanks to a significant drop off in spam volumes. But as of this week, that peace is over.
Researchers noticed over the Christmas holiday and into the new year that spam circulation had dropped dramatically - Symantec's MessageLabs Intelligence group reported on January 4 that unwanted email levels were at their lowest since November of 2008, when rogue ISP McColo that had been responsible for a significant portion of global spam was shut down. Researchers are attributing the late December-early January drop to a significant slowdown in spam production by the Rustock botnet, which they called the most dominant spam botnet of 2010.
Virginia is updating its extortion laws to include threats to expose personally identifiable information, which is exactly what a member of the state's House of Delegates experienced last summer.
According to a report by Washington, D.C., NPR affiliate WAMU, Delegate David Bulova, representing Fairfax county in Northern Virginia, received an email from a person claiming knowledge of Bulova's social security number, and demanding $30,000 to keep it private. Bulova assumed the e-mail was spam, and ignored it.
You may not have noticed, but the percentage of Spam in your inbox is probably growing. Spam currently makes up 90.4 percent of all e-mail, a 5 percent increase from last month, according to a new study from Symantec's MessageLabs. That's actually a more modest uptick than the last MessageLabs report, which found 10 percent growth from March to April.
What's accounting for the increase? Last month, Symantec pointed to a flood of image spam. The current report says that many of the new wave of messages contain links to social networking profiles created using tools that can pass Captcha tests. The e-mails are coming from legitimate webmail hosting providers, according to the study.