A monthly report published by security software company Symantec claims that spam emails have been outnumbered for the first time since September 2003, with the percentage of automated messages falling to just 49.7 percent of the overall volume of email sent.
Symantec’s Intelligence Report for the month of June shows that this is a nearly 2 percent decrease in the overall spam amount rate since May, when spam e-mail represented 51.5 percent of the total amount of e-mails circulated. According to Symantec readings, this is the first time in almost 12 years when the amount of spam e-mails isn’t in the majority
The report also offered a breakdown of spam rates according to industry sectors, with the mining industry being the most affected by spam mails, which make 56.1 percent of the total volume of emails circulating that industry. Manufacturing, construction, retail and non-traditional services also present spam rates higher than 53 percent.
When taken by company size, spam numbers offered by Symantec didn’t vary wildly, although companies which employ between 251 and 500 people were found to be the most spam prone, with a 53.2 percent rate of unsolicited electronic messages.
The decline in email spam levels also coincided with a decline in phishing rates (attempts to get hold of sensitive information such as passwords or credit card details by posing as a legit entity) and malware attached to emails. However, malware variants have seen a significant rise, with over 57.6 million created throughout the month of June.
According to Symantec, these statistics give credibility to the idea that malware-based attackers are slowly starting to leave behind their traditional e-mail based activities and redirecting towards more productive areas.
This is not surprising, as even though the email has been the undisputed king of electronic communication for most of the time since the rise of the internet, it is losing the grip in front of the numerous popular instant messaging services which today incorporate most of what emailing offers, while adding the advantage of real time.
Also, email has been around for a long time as an easy to use means of communication, so malicious attackers are also losing their prime victims – non-tech savvy middle-aged or elderly individuals who are just getting to grips with the service. With the spread of technology into our daily lives and the rapid circulation of information, most internet users nowadays know how a malicious email is supposed to look like, giving malware creators a harder time in getting them to use their software.
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