Global spam levels fall slightly: Symantec

While global spam levels dropped by a whole percentage point in March - accounting for 68% of all e-mail - global IT security firm Symantec warns people and businesses not to relax their vigilance.

According to the firm's latest Intelligence Report for February 2012, the spam slump does not mean that Cybercriminals are giving up. They are merely focusing more attention to a less obvious, but potentially even more dangerous tactics - malicious Websites designed to infect unwary surfers with toxic malware.

Symantec blocked an average of 2,305 malicious Websites a day in February harboring malware and other potentially unwanted programs including spyware and adware. This was an increase of almost 10% on the month before.

"This increase reflects the rate at which Websites are being compromised or created for the purpose of spreading malicious content. Often this number is higher when Web-based malware is in circulation for a longer period of time to widen its potential spread and increase its longevity," said Harry Pun, Client Services Manager, North Asia for Symantec.cloud.

Further analysis reveals that 31.5% of all malicious domains blocked in February were new, and so was 13.0% of all Web-based malware blocked.

One of the most frequently blocked traffic was Social Networking, accounting for 19.6% of URL-based filtering activity blocked. That is equivalent to approximately one in every five Web sites blocked.

"Many organizations allow access to social networking sites, but facilitate access logging so that usage patterns can be tracked and in some cases implement policies to only permit access at certain times of the day and block access at all other times. This information is often used to address performance management issues, perhaps in the event of lost productivity due to social networking abuse," said Pun.

"As more people depend on social networking to stay in touch, businesses cannot afford to simply forbid its use. However, it is critical that measures are in place to defend against threats and that employees understand the need to take care when it comes to clicking on unknown social apps," he said.