2003, Year of the Spiral of Evil? Or Just The Start?

MessageLabs, who track this sort of thing, say that spam and viruses hit all time highs in 2003. Not surprising, but the figures are pretty shocking, revealing the symbiotic relationship between spam and viruses — what I called in a recent WSJ/FEER column The Spiral Of Evil (no, it doesn’t seem to have caught on). Here are the figures:

— Two-thirds of all spam coming from open proxies created by viruses
— Ratio of spam to email is 1 in 2.5 – up 77 per cent in 12 months
— Ratio of virus to email now 1 in 33 – up 84 per cent

Basically, this means that virus writers are hijacking innocent computers and turning them into open proxies — a sort of free sorting office for spam, churning it all and in the process hiding the original sender from anti-spammers.

Here’s the link: Highlights of 2003 include Sobig.F breaking the world record in August to become the fastest spreading virus ever with one million copies stopped in a day by MessageLabs. MessageLabs also reckon that 66% of spam was coming from computers infected by viruses such as Sobig.F. At its peak, 1 in every 17 emails stopped by MessageLabs contained a copy of the SoBig.F. By December 1, more than 32 million emails containing the virus had been stopped by MessageLabs, putting Sobig.F at head of the Top 10 Viruses List for 2003.