Botnets Driving Spam Volume

    July 29, 2009

Spam volumes have risen 141 percent since March, continuing the longest streak of increasing spam volumes ever, according to McAfee’s Q2 Threats Report, released today.

More that 14 million computers have been hit by botnets, a 16 percent increase over last quarter.

McAfee researchers also found that, over the course of 30 days, Auto-Run malware had infected more than 27 million files. Auto-Run malware, which exploits Windows’ Auto-Run capabilities, does not require any user clicks to activate, and is most often spread through portable USB and storage devices.

McAfee Threats Report: Second Quarter 2009

"The jump in bot and spam activity we saw in the last three months is alarming, and the threat from Auto-Run malware continues to grow," said Mike Gallagher, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of McAfee Avert Labs.

"The expansion of these infections is a grave reminder of the potential harm that can be caused by unprotected computers in homes and businesses."

Fourteen million additional computers have been turned into botnets this quarter. That averages to more than 150,000 computers infected everyday. South Korea saw the largest increase at 45 percent over the last quarter.

Botnet expansion is also driving the increasing volume of spam, which now accounts for 92 percent of all email. Spam volumes have now surpassed the highest volume on record by 20 percent, increasing at a rate of 33 percent each month.

McAfee also found Twitter’s growth in popularity has made it a new target for cybercriminals in the last three months. Spam Twitter accounts are becoming more widespread and accounts have been hacked on numerous occasions, giving cybercriminals access to the personal accounts of celebrities and politicians.