Malware effects inconsistent throughout British business

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The impact of spam and viruses varies radically across different key vertical sectors of U.K. business, new research has shown.

According to the latest figures released by email management firm Email Systems, some vertical sectors are suffering much more than others from malware attacks and a clear "sector hierarchy" emerging.

Along with the IT industry, which is one of those worst hit, the leisure and entertainment sector, including sport, received almost one in 10 of all spam mails sent over the last 12 months. The manufacturing sector received more than one in three. Between them, the three sectors have attracted more than 60 percent of all spam and virus emails since November 2004.

However, what also emerged from the research's findings was the existence of a second tier of sectors where malware attacks are still extremely significant as each sector attracted hundreds of millions of spam and virus emails each year.

Roughly a quarter of the spam and viruses received over the last year has been split between the construction sector (1.13 percent); the consumer goods (including tobacco, alcohol and household goods) sector (5.8 percent); financial services and banking (2.31 percent); the public sector (government/education) (5.13 percent); retail (5.15 percent); support services (cleaning services) 3.14 percent and tourism (2.82 percent).

With one in 10 spam and virus mails targeting businesses in unidentifiable sectors, the remaining 5 percent was divided between agriculture (0.01 percent), energy utilities (oil/gas/chemicals) (0.01 percent), media and marketing (1.23 percent), motoring (0.49 percent) and telecommunications 0.55 percent.

Neil Hammerton, CEO of Email Systems, said, "I suspect that many will find the most surprising aspect of these results to be that a large proportion of the worst affected sectors are traditional industries, whilst sectors such as media and marketing and telecommunications are apparently amongst those least affected.

"One possible explanation is that many of the traditional sector corporate organizations are extremely large businesses that may be spread across many countries. Consequently these organizations may represent a more attractive target for spammers looking to generate revenue through denial of service attacks or indeed just better awareness of their target via dictionary attacks – both of which entail enormous quantities of spam and are potentially crippling for businesses ill-equipped to deal with such a massive influx of email."

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