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Better security practices would reduce the prevalence of compromised PCs, however they are attacked. Persuading the minority of misguided souls buying products through spam to stop would also undermine the business model of cybercrooks.

Spam 2.0

The report, published Wednesday, also highlights recent evolution in malware distribution and spamming tactics.

The circumvention of Captcha sign-up controls on webmail accounts, normally by semi-automated approaches, has meant that five per cent of all the spam blocked by IronPort in the first three months of 2008 was sent through Gmail, Yahoo mail and other webmail services. This compares to one per cent in the last quarter of 2007. Spammers have adopted the approach because messages sent this way are more likely to get past spam filters.

IronPort also notes that an estimated 1.3 per cent of all Google searches give malware sites as valid results, thanks to the use by miscreants of various tactics designed to inflate the ranking of hacker-controlled websites. An increase in the appearance of malicious scripts on legitimate websites is driving this trend despite the best efforts of Google and third-party security firms to contain the drive-by download menace.

The full study can be found on IronPort's website here (registration required). ®

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