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The volume of phishing attacks on UK businesses in July increased 45 per cent, according to email security company BlackSpider Technologies. BlackSpider detected more than 360,000 emails carrying a phishing threat in July, compared to just under 250,000 in June 2005.

Spam levels reached a yearly high in July, accounting for 77 per cent of all emails processed by BlackSpider. Meanwhile virus-laden emails dropped slightly from 2.9 per cent in June to 2.6 per cent in July. The NetSky-P virus toped BlackSpider's malware chart for the fifth successive month. Phishing fraud emails appeared at second and sixth places in Blackspider's top ten while variants of older viruses (namely NetSky, MyDoom and MyTob) made up the other places.

BlackSpider's monthly stats also reveal that six variants of the "small Trojan downloader" posed the greatest challenge for conventional anti-virus vendors of new viruses seen last month. Signature patches for the Trojan downloader Small-ARF variant, for example, only arrived 21 hours after the virus was released into the wild, Blackspider reports. During this time BlackSpider estimates that more than 250,000 instances of the malware were sent to businesses in the UK. Blackspider makes this point to illustrate how its own heuristic technology - like that of other email filtering services - can quarantine viruses before patches are issued by conventional anti-virus vendors. ®

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