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Symantec Reports Spam Rate Decline, Malware On The Rise

Less than one in two emails received is a spam email, according to security firm Symantec.  This rate of spam is the lowest the firm has recorded since September of 2003.

The report released by Symantec notes that while spam has been on the decline, malware creation has been on the rise.  Symantec suggests there is a correlation between the two, stating the decline in spam has occurred because the malicious individuals behind it are moving to more lucrative cybercrimes.

This increase in activity lends more evidence to the idea that, with the continued drops in email-based malicious activity, attackers are simply moving to other areas of the threat landscape.

Though both spam and malware distribution are illegal sources of income, they are two fundamentally different activities; bulk emailing and the creation and distribution of software.

The only safe deduction that can be made from the data is that email based spam is becoming less profitable for spammers.  This could be due to advances in spam detection, less interaction made by the users who receive the junk mail, or perhaps even the growing legal repercussions to those who illicitly send out mail in bulk.

The good news is that whatever the reason, we’re headed in the right direction when it comes to spam.

Malware has been on the rise, due in part to the vulnerabilities being discovered in popular browser plugins such as Adobe Flash.  When vulnerabilities like these are discovered, opportunists write the malware that can exploit the vulnerability in order to install software on the machines of victims.

Mozilla Firefox briefly banned the Flash plugin recently after a vulnerability in Flash was discovered that could allow an attacker to completely take over another person’s computer.  The vulnerability has been one of many that took advantage of Flash, prompting many to call for an end to its usage once and for all.

The vulnerability affecting Flash was originally discovered by Italian cybersecurity company Hacking Team.  It was released to the public when Hacking Team itself was hacked and all of their documents were published on WikiLeaks.

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