Email gives way to new virus distribution tactics

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Email gives way to new virus distribution tactics

Improved security against malware attacks is challenged by more intelligent
delivery methods.

The number of viruses transmitted by emails dropped to a record low in June, but spam is becoming an increasing problem for businesses, according to research published this week.

Figures from security services firm BlackSpider Technologies show that just 0.68 per cent of all emails sent in June contained viruses, breaking the previous record of 0.73 per cent in May.

But this lull in virus traffic does not mean that the threat of cyber crime has disappeared.

"This is by no means a victory for the security industry over malware writers", said James Kay, chief technology officer at BlackSpider. "What we are actually seeing is a switch in virus distribution tactics rather than a drop in viruses," he said.

Separate research carried out by research firm Vanson Bourne on behalf of Business Systems Group shows that 53 per cent of UK businesses rate junk email as the most pressing email security threat – almost twice the urgency given to virus protection.

International spam monitoring organisation Spamhaus says almost 75 per cent of all email traffic arriving at ISPs’ servers is now spam. Spamhaus believes this figure could reach 95 per cent this year.

"This is a pattern that has been taking shape over the past two years. It’s more of an evolution than a new wave in internet crime," said Thomas Raschke, senior analyst at Forrester Research.

"There have not been any significant outbreaks of a virus recently, big firms are using better virus protection, and people are more aware of the threat. Online crime is becoming more sophisticated and criminals are now combining different types of attacks at once," said Raschke.

Rather than sending a virus in an email, malware writers now send spam emails with links to malicious web sites, which download viruses to users’ PCs.

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