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News

Doubling of spam expected in 2008 according to Proofpoint

ProofPoint : 02 April, 2008  (Technical Article)
Increased global internet and e-mail usage swells resources for botnets fuelling unprecedented levels of spam.
Proofpoint has announced that the Proofpoint Attack Response Centre (PARC) has seen enterprise spam volumes rise by more than 50% during the first quarter of 2008 accompanied by short-term spikes of 60% or more. PARC's observations measure the volume of spam targeted to enterprises worldwide and represent an average increase across enterprises. Some enterprises have seen spam volume increases as high as 200% in Q1 2008. Based on these trends, Proofpoint anticipates that enterprises will see inbound email spam volume more than double this year, continuing the trend of the last two years.

The high volumes of email associated with today's spam attacks can escalate the number of inbound messages between 500% and 700% within a period of hours. This sudden, exponential growth in spam volumes can easily strain IT network infrastructure to the point of failure.

"Botnets continue to proliferate and are by far the dominant source of spam," said Andres Kohn, vice president of product management for Proofpoint. "The Storm botnet, already the largest network of compromised machines in history, doubled in size during the 2007 holiday season alone. Other botnets such as Mega-D, emulate Storm in technical sophistication and may already surpass Storm as the largest generators of spam. The massive computing power and network resources associated with these botnets allow spammers and scammers to constantly increase the aggressiveness and scale of their attacks."

Kohn added that the large numbers of new Internet users coming online across the world are fuelling the growth of botnets. "Many of these users are not savvy to modern social engineering techniques and also have limited access to virus protection," he said. "This makes them easy targets for malware designed to seize control of their computers. We expect this trend, and the commensurate trends in Botnet and spam growth, to continue through 2008 and beyond."

"Enterprises today need to prepare themselves for two trends that will continue for the foreseeable future: rising spam volume and sudden, unpredictable short spikes in spam volume," said Michael Osterman, president of Osterman Research. "This means enterprises not only need highly effective anti-spam technology, but also effective capacity strategies that can accommodate sudden wild fluctuations in volume. Most companies today have the former, but not the latter, and are encountering problems."

Proofpoint's messaging security experts recommend that enterprises deploy both a combination of connection-level protection combined with highly accurate content analysis features to combat growing spam volume. Proofpoint's connection management solution, Proofpoint Dynamic Reputation, combines machine learning analysis of both global and local reputation data to provide maximum protection against malicious IP addresses. Proofpoint Dynamic Reputation not only sheds most of the load associated with spam volumes, but it incrementally increases the 99.8%+ effectiveness delivered by Proofpoint's anti-spam engine, powered by Proofpoint MLX machine learning technology.

Though a strong connection-management strategy goes a long way in addressing the volume issue, Proofpoint also offers the widest range of options to dynamically and seamlessly apply additional resources. For companies leveraging VMware infrastructure in their datacenters, the Proofpoint Messaging Security Gateway—Virtual Edition appliance can dynamically add capacity. In addition, the Proofpoint on Demand hosted service offering delivers unlimited capacity and protection against bursts in spam volume by shifting the burden of spam protection to the network "cloud".

Proofpoint offers a free spam audit for organisations that want to better understand the impact of spam and potential solutions for rising spam volumes. To request a Proofpoint spam audit and download Proofpoint's connection management whitepaper, Next-generation Reputation Technology, please visit the Proofpoint web site.
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