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The increasing problems of Spam, Spim, Splog & SSMS

Email services company MessageLabs has been tracking the problems of email spam for ages. Now, the spamming problem has split over to web-based instant messaging (IM), blogs and social-networking communities, and even mobile text-messaging / Short Message Service (SMS).

The company, which sells a Web-filtering and instant messaging service, said in a report Thursday that spammers are increasingly targeting new means of communication to "bypass e-mail-based antispam measures and more effectively target recipients based on their age, location and other characteristics".

Social-networking sites offer spammers a "new level of convergence and capability to profile people," said Mark Sunner, chief technical officer at MessageLabs.

MessageLabs has also seen an increase in IM spam, also known as spim, which can be malicious.

"On IM and on the Web, we've seen a huge hike in link spam," Sunner told ZDNet UK. "Spammers send just a hyperlink, which can lead to a malicious site, or a phishing site," he said.

MessageLabs expects "cross-pollination" of ill-intended software across different protocols. It also said growing convergence between different proprietary Web-based IM systems will also help spammers.

"We expect more cross-fertilization of (malicious software) as Yahoo, MSN and Google become one big blob, from an IM standpoint," Sunner said, adding that MessageLabs may start to sell services focusing on blog spam, also referred to as splog, but that was "perhaps something for the future".

In June 2006, spam made up 64.8 percent of global e-mail traffic, an increase of 6.9 percent over the previous month, according to the report.

This was due to a fluctuation in the number of operational networks of compromised computers sending out spam, MessageLabs said.

"Over the year, spam levels are like a sine wave--they ebb and flow in tandem with botnet distributions--with how botnets grow and shrink. The bad guys seed more, but then more measures are taken against them," Sunner said.
 

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