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April 3rd, 2008

Storm Botnet Is Behind 20 Percent Of Internet Spam

According to a report from email and Web security provider, MessageLabs, Storm botnet was found to have been responsible for 20 percent of all internet spam.

The recent segmentation of the botnet into smaller, more discreet networks allows the controllers to hire-out each segment to different groups of criminals for different purposes. This also allows the controllers to preserve some portions of the botnet for specific purposes, including the distribution of the Storm malware itself. This ability, and others that contribute to its caginess, are rooted in a botnet operator that has taken adaptability into serious consideration.

The way in which the Storm botnet has evolved from its dawn in January 2007 has placed it head-and-shoulders above many other operators in this market. i.e. the market of creating and hiring-out botnet airtime to spammers and other online criminals.

Storm keepers rely on several tricks to stay ahead and reinforce its numbers, from inventive peer-to-peer command and control mechanism, to its flexibility in being able to be used to distribute spam and malware to launching distributed denial of service attacks and its ability to host websites or act as proxies for other services. The latter is often used to host spammer sites, phishing sites and also sites to serve-up the latest strains of the Storm botnet trojan itself to new unsuspecting victims.

The report also offers updated spam and email security statistics:

In March 2008, the global ratio of spam in email traffic from new and previously unknown bad sources, was 73.8 percent (1 in 1.36 emails), an increase of 1.1 percent on the previous month. Spam levels for Q1 2008 are 1.1 percent lower than Q4 2007 and 3 percent lower than Q1 2007, but 14.1 percent higher than the same period in 2006.

March saw a decrease of 0.57 percent in the proportion of phishing attacks compared with the previous month. One in 228.7 (0.44 percent) emails comprised some form of phishing attack. When judged as a proportion of all email-borne threats such as viruses and Trojans, the number of phishing emails had fallen by 13.5 percent to 74 percent of all email-borne malware threats intercepted in March.

The global ratio of email-borne viruses in email traffic from new and previously unknown bad sources, was 1 in 169.2 emails (0.59 percent) in March, a decrease of 0.36 percent since the previous month.

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