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News

Second quarter analysis of UK spam, phishing targets and ISPs

ClearMyMail : 08 August, 2008  (Technical Article)
Analysis of malware in the UK reveals that 20% of the nation’s spam is home grown and the volume of unwanted e-mails continues to grow at an alarming rate
The UK’s only guaranteed anti-spam company has revealed results of their quarterly spamming index for Q2 2008 and worryingly, the average amount of spam blocked per customer for those 3 months has almost quadrupled to 30,846, since Q1. All results from the spamming index are evaluated below.

A leading UK based anti-spam software company has today revealed results of their quarterly spamming index for Q2 2008. When assessing the quantities of spam that had prevented from reaching intended participants between April 2008 and June 2008, some concerning results were collated.

Figures show that, on average 30,846 spam emails were blocked per customer in Q2 2008, in comparison to just 8,156 emails blocked per customer in Q1 of the same year. This is an increase of approximately 22,690 spam emails blocked in just three months.

A breakdown of these emails reveals Royal Bank of Scotland to be the main company targeted by phishing attacks. Customers who choose Orange as an Internet Service Provider receive the highest percentage of spam for the second consecutive Spamming Index, and the UK is now guilty of being the main source of phishing attacks.

ClearMyMail looked at which countries produce the highest number of UK targeted spam and, much like Q1 2008, the UK and USA are sending the most spam to UK email accounts. However, the UK is now the biggest culprit, sending 19.65% of all spam emails; 0.02% more than the USA, who were at the top in Q1 2008 and 3.97% higher than the UK ranked in the last quarter.

Despite the USA still ranking highly at Number Two, the amount of spam reaching UK email boxes from the USA has dramatically dropped by 7.26%; it was 19.53% in Q1 2008 and now amounts to 12.57%. This is the most significant decline from Q1 to Q2 2008.

The results from Q1 of this year showed more European countries had become a threat to UK email accounts and now, with the UK being the Number One culprit, there is much cause for concern; it is suggested that spammers and phishers are getting more targeted and even local. This allows spammers to know the markets they are targeting and therefore maximise the outcomes of rogue emails.

Top 10 Countries Sending Spam to UK Email Accounts:.

1 UK = 19.65% of UK spam comes from UK
2 USA = 12.57%
3 Uruguay = 7.40%
4 Turkey = 7.22%
5 Italy = 3.98%
6 Russia =3.52%
7 Poland = 3.48%
8 China = 3.41%
9 France = 3.33%
10 Brazil = 3.00%

Significant changes have come from both Spain and Germany; in Q1 2008 these countries ranked at 6th and 8th place in the spamming index but have since dropped off the chart. On the contrary, Italy and Brazil were not on the Top 10 list in the last quarter as neither contributed to enough UK spam. Now however, they rank at 5th and 10th place on the Top 10 scale; therefore becoming more threatening to UK email users.

ClearMyMail also evaluated the Top 10 most popular company names used by email fraudsters when targeting the personal finance industry; Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) had previously only received 0.02% of the total proportion of phishing emails blocked and therefore did not rank high enough for the Top 10 for Q1 2008; this has quite dramatically changed, taking them well into the lead with 42.78% of all phishing emails aimed at them.

Top 10 UK Companies Targeted by Phishing Attacks:.

1 Royal Bank of Scotland = 42.78% of all Phishing emails blocked were targeting RBS
2 Abbey = 18.28%
3 Halifax = 9.77%
4 Natwest = 7.06%
5 PayPal = 6.79%
6 Citi card/bank = 4.75%
7 Lloyds TSB = 4.70%
8 HSBC = 3.36%
9 Nationwide = 0.93%
10 Barclays = 0.82%

Comparatively to Royal Bank of Scotland, Halifax has once again crept its way up the fraudsters’ rankings. The final quarter of 2007 resulted in Halifax only receiving 0.8% of the total proportion of phishing emails blocked, in Q1 2008 this had raised to 8.49% and now, at the end of Q2 2008, this figure is 9.77%.

On the contrary, Citi Card/Bank has dropped 4 places in ClearMyMail’s Top 10; previously amounting to 19.15% of all emails blocked and now plummeting to 4.75%. MBNA has consistently received the least amount of spam emails, going from 0.5% in Q4 2007, to just 0.57% in Q1 2008 and now off the Top 10 list altogether, with just 0.12% this quarter.

The below figures indicate the Top 10 spam targeted UK Internet Service Provider’s (ISP’s) and thus reflects which ISP is potentially the most harmful, to date. The percentage reflects how many of the individual ISP’s customers’ emails are indeed spam.

Top 10 UK ISP's Who's Customers Receive the Most Spam

1 Orange = 96.63% average spam rate
2 Mistral Internet = 94.36%
3 Toucan = 93.71%
4 Homecall = 92.85%
5 UK Servers = 89.18%
6 BT Internet= 88.90%
7 Force 9 = 88.65%
8 Pipex = 87.73%
9 Tiscali = 82.07%
10 Clara = 81.95%

Research showed that, once again, users with an Orange ISP are subjected to the largest amount of spam. In Q1, 96% of all emails sent to an Orange ISP account were spam. This has since increased to 96.93% in Q2.This all comes after Colin Wells, an Orange ISP user was named the ‘Most spammed man in Britain’, with an average of 44,000 spam emails blocked from entering his email account everyday by ClearMyMail.

In contrast, MacLimited.net and Sky have demonstrated some positive results; MacLimited.net was previously in 6th place, with an 85.9% average spam rate and Sky was previously in 7th place with an 84.9% average spam rate; both ISP’s have now dropped off the scale showing a significant increase in their protection against rogue emails.

Dan Field, Managing Director of ClearMyMail, discusses these recent findings:

“These statistics are becoming increasingly worrying and for the average amount of spam blocked per person to have nearly quadrupled in the last 3 months suggests that action desperately needs to be taken.”

Field continued;

“It is reassuring to see some positive results and it is clear that some companies have been working hard to eliminate fraudulent emails entering their users’ accounts. However, as one company improves its fraud prevention, another company shoots its way up the index. Unfortunately, unless ISP’s, anti-spam and anti-virus providers all work together, the quantities of hoax spam entering email accounts will just continue to rise.”

UK based ClearMyMail is the only company in the world to offer a complete no spam guarantee. The software prevents all forms of spam and phishing emails, cutting out the risk of fraud.

The system has the ability to also stop the new wave of 'image-spam' that has been increasingly hitting in-boxes.

ClearMyMail is the first anti-spam software company to receive a 5-Star award from WebUser magazine.

The business has recently won an award for innovation and was short listed for several technical industry awards in 2007.

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