Last month, 87% of all email messages sent was spam.
Symantec’s October reports on spam and phishing also note that Europe and North America have now been passed by Asia Pacific and South America as the leading headquarters for spammers.
While Europe continues to be the primary region of origin for spam, at 28%, the Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ) region and South America have now passed North America with 23% and 22% respectively of all spam originating from these regions.
Symantec observed a 17% increase from the previous month in all phishing attacks, and 30% of phishing URLs were generated using phishing toolkits; an increase of 24% from the previous month.
A total of 977 phishing sites were hosted in 57 countries.
“Distribution networks are becoming more dynamic as additional broadband connected targets are coming online every day,” the spam report says. “Distribution paths are also getting more complicated with spammers now sending messages directly from infected machines.
“Botnets continue to jockey for position after shutdowns such as McColo (US-based spammer shut down last year). The number of botnets is set to grow as hackers target developing IT infrastructures in certain regions such as APJ and South America.
“Finally, it should be noted that the nature of spam and its distribution on the Internet presents challenges in identifying the location of the people sending the messages. Many spammers redirect attention away from their actual geographic location.”
The amount of spam containing malware continues to increase. In October 2009, an average of 1.9% of all spam messages contained malware. This is a 0.6% increase from September 2009 when the number of messages containing malware hit a maximum of 4.5% of all spam.
Facebook is being used more and more for spam and phishing attacks.
“As spammers continue to hide behind the reputation of legitimate senders, social networking sites which have a large user base will continue to be targets of malicious and phishing emails,” the spam report says.
And as Christmas approaches, Symantec warns computer users to be on the lookout for malware attacks disguised as special seasonal offers.