Spam rates spike in 2009

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While the New Year is barely two weeks old, the spam attacks this year are already up. According to MessageLabs, an e-mail security firm owned by Symantec, 2009 has already seen a significant spike in e-mail fraud and financial scams compared to last year. 

From January 1 through January 7, e-mail and fraud scams, such as “Congratulations New Year winner!  You have won the UK National Lottery,” make up approximately 10% of all e-mail. That's triple what the amount was last year during the January 1 – January 15 timeframe, in which e-mail consisted of 3.1% of all e-mail.

“The New Year means new opportunities for spammers," said Paul Wood, senior analyst, at MessageLabs in a statement. “As the economic climate continues to be frosty and the inability to secure credit through official channels remains, spammers are tempted by the possibility that consumers facing uncertain futures may be more tempted by some of these hard-to-resist offers.”  

According to its January spam report, Symantec found that in December spammers tried to emulate legitimate e-mail newsletters.

For example, Symantec reported a false e-mail newsletter based on The Food Network brand's e-mail newsletter. The spam used an image to look like the Food Network's own newsletter, but contained an advertisement for various pharmaceutical drugs in the ad space.  If the user clicked on any of the links within the message they would be taken to a URL site operated by a spammer, which is being used to promote certain pharmaceutical products.

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