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Spam levels increase in UK as botnets increase output

25 August 2010 - 13:40 by Paul Tissington

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Criminals are taking the reins of of growing number of infected PCs around the UK to generate vast volumes of dangerous spam email, according to the latest figures published by security vendor Symantec.

This month the UK has managed to become the fourth largest global source of spam emails, with close to a 100 per cent increase in the output of malicious messages sent by vast networks of hijacked machines.

4.5 per cent of the total global spam originated in the UK, according to Symantec, which notes that ever more domestic PCs are being exploited by big name botnets such as Rustock, presenting a serious problem for consumers around the globe.

Worryingly, the spammers have been able to increase the level of spam while dealing with a smaller number of infected PCs, which means that six per cent more spam is being generated in any given 24 hour period than in previous months.

Symantec's Paul Wood commented that although there were clear signs that the UK was becoming one of the most heavily targeted nations in the world, there was no concrete explanation as to why criminals are choosing to harness UK PCs for botnets and spam campaigns.

Mr Wood said it was possible that UK consumers were simply unaware as to the risks facing them, assuming that safe shopping online is assured and neglecting to take on-board the threat of infection. He added that detecting when a computer has become infected can be nigh on impossible without the right tools, which many people lack.

Mr Wood warned that carrying out safe shopping online using perfectly legitimate sites was becoming more difficult as criminals temporarily hijack them in order to spread malware in short bursts.

Symantec is concerned with the implications of growing spam levels within the UK from the perspective of both individual users and that of larger businesses and organisations, as there are multiple layers of risk involved.