Holidays Bring a Whole Lot of Spam
The advent of the holiday season has brought with it a more than 20 percent increase in the volume of spam traffic, according to a statement released by Brightmail on Monday.
The San Francisco-based company, which sells products and services that help companies identify and block e-mail viruses and spam, processed over 16 billion spam messages in the past 30 days, a 21 percent increase over the number of spam messages blocked in the 30-day period prior to the Thanksgiving holiday, according to Brightmail.
The company, which was founded in 1998, said that it had noted the
Brightmail develops its knowledge of spam messages from approximately 130 customer sites, which include six of the top ten Internet service providers in the United States, as well as leading ISPs in Europe and Asia, according to Enrique Salem, president and chief executive officer of Brightmail.
The company's software protects about 250 million e-mail accounts, Salem said.
Brightmail develops its knowledge of spam messages from its Probe Network, which is described on the company's Web site as a collection of decoy e-mail accounts that are specially designed to attract spam messages. The network has a "statistical reach" of over 100 million mailboxes, according to Brightmail.
All messages that land in the decoy e-mail accounts are considered by Brightmail to be spam. The company uses the network of accounts to detect developing spam attacks and to create filter rules that its customers can use to block the spam from their own messaging servers.
The uptick in spam is due primarily to increased product solicitations linked to the Christmas shopping season, Salem said. The soft economy may also play a role.
"What's the cost of sending an e-mail? It's almost free. So [spam] is a way of getting your message out at a low cost. The economic side is favorable," Salem said.
"Last year, there was also a bump in the holiday season, but it didn't drop off. It was sustained and then kept growing. People harvested e-mail addresses, then just kept using them throughout the year," Salem said.
Brightmail predicted a continued increase in the volume of spam during 2003. Spam already made up 40 percent of all Internet e-mail traffic in 2002, up from just 8 percent of e-mail traffic in 2001, the company said.
Statistics released by Brightmail show that of the more that 5.5 million unique spam messages detected by the company in November, more than 75 percent were solicitations for consumer products, financial services, and adult content.
The remaining 25 percent of spam messages were linked to