Symantec: Spam, Email Borne Threats Down, Web Malware Way Up

Paul Lilly

Security firm Symantec this week announced the results of its November 2011 Intelligence Report, a monthly analysis on the state of security and trending cyber threats. The roller coaster report notes that the number of targeted attacks quadrupled since January (boo!), but the global spam rate in November is not only the lowest all year, but for the past three years as well (yay!).

Symantec identified the public sector as the most frequently targeted industry during 2011, with about 20.5 targeted attacks blocked each day. Coming in second is the chemical & pharmaceutical industry with 18.6 blocked each day.

"The aim of these targeted attacks is to establish persistent access to the targeted organization’s network, in many cases with the aim of providing remote access to confidential data. They have the potential to cause serious damage to an organization and in the long term represent a significant threat against the economic prosperity of many countries," said Paul Wood , senior intelligence analyst,

"Targeted attacks are designed to gather intelligence, steal confidential information or trade secrets, and in the case of attacks like Stuxnet, disrupt operations or even destroy critical infrastructure," Wood added.

Getting back to spam, Symantec claims the global ratio of spam in email traffic in November fell by 3.7 percentage points since October to 70.5 percent, or 1 in 1.42 emails. In the U.S., 69.9 percent of email was spam and 69.5 percent in Canada. Email borne threats are down too, with the global ratio of email borne viruses being 1 in 255.8 emails, or 0.39 percent.

It appears cyber criminals are more interested in chasing their prey through websites. Symantec noted an average of 4,915 websites each day harboring malware and other potentially unwanted programs (PUPs), an increase of nearly 48 percent since October 2011.

You can read the full report here (PDF) .

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