The Deadly Duo: Spam and Viruses, January 2004

Making a 2 percentage point leap into the new year, spam accounted for 60 percent — or 51 billion messages — of the 85 billion e-mails filtered by Brightmail’s Probe Network. The spam volume has consistently risen 2 percentage points every month for the last three, according to Brightmail’s measurements, and at this rate, spam can potentially rise to nearly 80 percent of e-mail by the end of the year.

Percentages of Total Internet E-mail Identified as Spam
January 2004 60%
December 2003 58%
November 2003 56%
October 2003 52%
August 2003 50%
July 2003 50%
June 2003 49%
May 2003 48%
April 2003 46%
March 2003 45%
February 2003 42%
Source: Brightmail Logistics and
Operations Center (BLOC)

Francois Lavaste, vice president of marketing for Brightmail, comments on the battle against unsolicited messages: “We definitely expect spam to continue to grow in 2004, which is why we recommend businesses take the necessary steps to protect their employees. CAN SPAM is only part of the solution.”

Lavaste notes that anti-spam technology coupled with direct marketing best practices and end user education are also critical components of the solution. “Until there are some big wins against some of the biggest spammers under CAN SPAM, we don’t expect that it will impact e-mail users’ inboxes.”

Lavaste’s multi-pronged approach may be the most effective, as a Jupiter Research (a unit of this site’s corporate parent) report revealed that mistakenly blocked e-mail is expected to cost legitimate e-marketers $419 million in 2008.

Additionally, a collaborative report by the CMO Council, BtoB Magazine, USA Today, and Responsys, found that spam and other e-mail filters pose the biggest challenge to digital marketers, followed by e-mail inbox clutter.

What are the top challenges
your company faces in delivering
e-mail marketing today?
Spam and other e-mail filters 63.7%
E-mail inbox clutter 60.5%
Development of qualified e-mail lists 53.1%
Not well integrated with other forms
of customer communications
Ineffective customer segmentation 18.9%
Lack of personalization 17.1%
Too few customers choose to opt-in 16.6%
Low clickthrough rates 13.9%
Low content appeal and relevancy 11.6%
Hard to handle campaign response 7.1%
Other 6.5%
Source: the CMO Council, BtoB Magazine, USA Today,
and Responsys

Spam category levels remain virtually unchanged, with financially related e-mails registering the biggest increase to 20 percent of the unwanted message volume. Brightmail’s newest category, “fraud,” measured a 1 percentage point increase in a month, comprising 4 percent of all e-mail during January 2004.

January 2004 Spam Category Data
Type of Spam Dec. Volume Jan. Volume Change
Products 21% 22% +1
Financial 18% 20% +2
Adult 18% 17% -2
Scams 9% 8% -1
Other 8% 7% -1
Health 6% 7% -1
Leisure 6% 6% 0
Internet 6% 5% -1
Fraud 3% 4% +1
Political 2% 2% 0
Spiritual 3% 2% -1
Source: Brightmail Logistics and
Operations Center (BLOC)

January was a big month for pests as MyDoom and its variants snaked their way across the Internet, wreaking $39 billion in economic damage thus far, according to mi2g. This estimate marks the highest financial damage from any malware, impacting overtime payments, contingency outsourcing, loss of business, bandwidth clogging, productivity erosion, management time reallocation, cost of recovery, and software upgrades.

Even though MyDoom made its first appearance late in the month, it quickly topped Central Command, Inc.’s list of the most prevalent viruses for January.

January 2004 Dirty Dozen
Rank Virus Percentage
1. Worm/MyDoom.A 77.4%
2. Worm/Sober.C 5.9%
3. Worm/Bagle.A 2.0%
4. Worm/MiMail.I 1.7%
5. Worm/Gibe.C 1.5%
6. Worm/Klez.E (including G) 1.3%
7. Worm/MiMail.J 1.1%
8. Worm/BugBear.B 0.7%
9. Worm/MiMail.A 0.5%
10. Worm/Dumaru.A 0.5%
11. Worm/Hawawi.G 0.4%
12. W32/Nimda 0.3%
  Others 6.8%
Note: The table above represents the most prevalent
viruses for January 2004, number one being the
most frequent.
Source: Central Command, Inc.

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