Symantec’s latest monthly State of Spam and Phishing report highlighted that spam volumes have continued a downward three month trend. Compared with August 2010 overall volumes are down by 47 percent.

The sharp decrease in global spam volumes coincides with action taken down by authorities against botnets and organised crime gangs. In October, authorities in the Netherlands took down several servers associated with the Bredolab botnet. This followed the September closure of and several arrests related to a cyber crime ring using the Zeus trojan.

The net effect is a decline in spam volume in October of 22.5 percent month over month. Spam as a percentage of overall email volume in October 2010 was at its lowest level since September 2009, with 86.6 percent consisting of spam.

However, whilst spam continued its decline, phishing attacks continued to increase, with social network users as targets. In October 2010 the number of phishing sites on social media increased significantly by about 80 percent compared to the previous month. As in September, the majority of the phishing websites spoofed two brands. Phishing on these two brands combined comprised nearly 98 percent of all phishing on social media.

The following trends are also highlighted in the October 2010 report:

  • Christmas comes early! Symantec has observed a variety of spam using the holiday angle including: replica merchandise, online pharmacy, and even the 419-type Nigerian scam.
  • The political category of spam increased to 1.4 percent due to the November 2010 US elections.
  • Of spam subject lines, the leisure category doubled month-over-month. Five subject lines in the ranking were related to the leisure category.