Spam reaches 12-year low as cybercriminals pursue new methods

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Feng Yu/Shutterstock
For those of you who shudder at the thought of waking up every morning to a dozen unwanted emails in your inbox, you’re in luck. Email spam is at a 12-year low, according to security software company Symantec. Overall, the spam rate has dropped to 49.7 percent, making now the first time in over a decade that spam emails have fallen under 50 percent, and the first time since September 2003 that a spam rate this low had been logged.

While it may seem like nothing remarkably negative could come from this, Symantec reports that while phishing rates and email-based malware are down, 57.6 million new malware variants were devised in June as cybercriminals begin to pursue new methods of attack. This figure is up from the 44.5 million types of malware conceived in May and 29.2 million created in April. The consistent increase in new varieties of malware being introduced signifies that cyber threats are beginning to abandon classic email spamming in favor of more modern scamming approaches.

Ransomware, a brand of malware which aims to brick devices and unlock them only in exchange for a ransom, was alarmingly up in June. Over 477,000 ransomware attacks were encountered last month, and although this number is a decrease from the number of ransomware attacks experienced in 2014, June marked the second month in a row ransomware had been up after achieving a 12-month low back in April of this year.

Furthermore, cyberattacks against the manufacturing industry dropped 41 percent in May to 22 percent in June. Nevertheless, the manufacturing industry still remains as the top sector for targeted attacks, despite being more in line with its second- and third-place correspondents — finance, insurance, and real estate, and the professional sector.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem as though spam is going anywhere in the foreseeable future. But at least you’re less likely to receive an email from a Nigerian prince panhandling for a plane ticket any time soon.

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