Spam has increased 141%

McAfee reports largest growth streak ever

Spam volumes have increased 141 percent since March, continuing the longest streak of increasing spam volumes ever, according to McAfee’s recently released Q2 Threats Report. The report also highlights the dramatic expansion of botnets and the threat from Auto-Run malware.

More than 14 million computers have been enslaved by cybercriminal botnets, a 16 percent increase over last quarter’s rise. The report confirmed McAfee’s first quarter prediction that the surge in botnet growth would send spam levels to new heights, surpassing their previous peak in October 2008 before the takedown of the spam-hosting ISP McColo.

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. The rate of detection surpasses even that of the infamous Conficker worm by 400 percent, making Auto-Run the number one piece of malware detected around the world.

“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,” says Jayson O’Reilly, regional manager for Africa at McAfee. “The expansion of these infections is a grave reminder of the potential harm that can be caused by unprotected computers in homes and businesses.”

Botnet expansion is also the main driver in the increasing volume of spam, which is now 92 percent of all e-mail. Spam volumes have now exceeded the highest volume on record by 20 percent, increasing at a steady rate of roughly 33 percent each month. In other words, spam volumes grow by over 117 billion e-mails every day.

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Spam has increased 141%