That unwanted e-mail curse - the unsolicited advert or worse - is at last declining slightly, according to the latest trend analysis from e-mail defence solutions provider MX Logic Inc.
MX Logic's latest data on email security found that in the 8 months ending August 2005, the dreaded 'spam' phenomenon accounted for an average of 67% of all e-mail that passed through the MX Logic Threat Center. While this is still an incredibly big problem, this compares favourably to the 76% noted for the same period in 2004.
In addition, an average of 48% of all spam filtered by the company's service in August was sent from neglected "always-connected" broadband computers that spammers had hijacked by installing a 'Trojan' (a piece of malicious software that allows spammers or hackers to effectively remote control a computer without the owner's knowledge). These computers are known to seasoned spam-fighters as 'spam zombies'.
Still a threat
"The drop in spam volume could indicate that improved email defence technology and high-profile prosecutions of spammers might be having some effect," said Scott Chasin, chief technology officer for MX Logic. "However, these numbers only indicate that less junk may be reaching inboxes. The overall volume of spam carried on the Internet continues to increase. Until we get rid of spam zombies - which are responsible for sending nearly half of all spam - we won't see any meaningful decline in transported spam or other internet pollution."
The company also examined data concerning the Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and Sender ID e-mail authentication standards, which have both yet to enjoy widespread adoption. The problem, of course, is that spam-sending domains can present these IDs quite happily and, indeed, they currently represent the biggest adopters of these protocols.
In a sample of more than 15.8 million unique email messages processed by the company in one week in August 2005, there were some interesting findings. First, 8.7% of the messages were from domains that had published an SPF record, and 83% of those were spammers. Second, only 0.12% were from domains that had published a Sender ID record, and 85% of those were spammers. All of which makes you wonder how useful these protocols are, and perhaps throws a little light on the reason for their slow adoption.