Google sees new spam players on the horizon

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Google sees new spam players on the horizon

Emergence of hotbeds.

A new crop of spam providers is set to emerge, according to security researchers at Google.

The company said in its latest quarterly spam report that spam levels had climbed six per cent since last year and 56 per cent since the first quarter of 2009.

Among the trends noticed by researchers was a jump in image spam. The technique uses an embedded image file to display the spam message in an effort to avoid traditional spam filters that search through text.

The technique was thought to have fallen out of favour with spammers, but has shown a resurgence recently.

Other trends noticed by Google's researchers were increased use of malware attachments. The company noted a recent spike in malware-laden attacks, particularly those related to botnets.

Earlier this week, researchers at MessageLabs suggested that botnet activity was responsible for 83 per cent of the global spam load.

Google noted that the recent shutdown of hosting firm 3FN had caused spam levels to drop by some 30 per cent. However, researchers caution that levels will almost certainly return to normal as new spam sources step in to fill the void.

"Over the coming months, we anticipate watching new players once again drive spam levels back up," wrote Google messaging and security team member Amanda Kleha.

"Since June 4, spammers have already made up a significant amount of ground, climbing 14 per cent from the initial drop."

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