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87 percent of e-mails from RP spam

October 11, 2007

A total of 87 percent of e-mails in the Philippines are spam, making it the second nation in the Asia-Pacific region with the worst spam activity, software firm Symantec said Tuesday.

Excerpts of Symantec's latest Internet Threat Security Report for January-June 2007 showed the Philippines ranking second to Uzbekistan in junk mail proliferation. This means that almost nine out of 10 e-mails received or sent in the Philippines are likely spam.

Other countries in the region with unusually high volumes of spam in e-mail traffic are Vietnam (84 %), South Korea (83 %) and Mongolia (82 %)

Richard Velasco, senior technical consultant for Symantec, said Manila is now ranked third among major Asia-Pacific cities with the highest number of spam "zombies" or computers infected with malicious software that send out thousands of junk e-mail everyday.

"Manila jumped from 12th place to 3rd place in top spam zombie cities in the past six months because of the large number of computers infected with spam zombies," Velasco said in a media briefing in Makati.

Velasco said increased connectivity and the proliferation of cybercafés in the Philippines are likely causing an increase in "bots" or malicious programs that allow hackers to control computers remotely. "This is alarming because the country is now becoming a popular target for cyber criminals," he said.

He said the Symantec report showed that the Philippines is now ranked 4th in Southeast Asia with regards to proliferation of malicious cyber attacks including phishing Web sites, spam zombies and command-and-control attacks.

Velasco said most spammers are paid to send out unsolicited e-mails as part of synchronized attacks on specific domains.

He also pointed out that most small and medium enterprises in the country do not utilize some form of anti-spam software. He said the increase in junk e-mails could lead to increased costs for businesses as companies lose productivity while spending more on storage and bandwidth.

"A small or medium size company could get an average of 5,000 e-mails a day. When the volume goes to 15,000 a day, they feel that they have to spend more because they're getting more e-mail, not knowing that it's just spam," he said.

The Symantec report said the company observed an average of 15,447 active bot-infected computers per day in the Asia-Pacific region and Japan during the six-month period. It said the bot-infected computers made up 29 percent of the worldwide average of 52,771 active bot-infected computers per day.

The report said at least 25 percent of all spam detected in the Asia-Pacific region and Japan originated from China.

Symantec utilized a global intelligence network of over 40,000 sensors in 180 countries to track attack activity across the Internet for the report. It also used two million decoy accounts to attract e-mail messages from 20 different countries around the world, allowing the company to gauge global spam and phishing activity.

Author:  David Dizon


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