Malicious spam on the rise says Brightmail

Anti-spam filtering company Brightmail Ltd. is warning users about an increase in malicious spam following the introduction of anti-spam legislation in a number of jurisdictions.

Brightmail, which has filters on around 25 percent of the world's e-mail addresses, is used by both TelstraClear and Telecom New Zealand Ltd.'s Xtra and so covers around 85 percent of New Zealand's e-mail.

Brightmail vice president for Asia-Pacific, Garry Sexton, says that with the introduction of anti-spam legislation spammers have developed a "damn the torpedoes" approach.

"They seem to be saying 'if it's not legal at all then let's go hell for leather' and so the kinds of e-mail we're seeing are moving from the business spam to the fraudulent and malicious." Sexton says currently most spam caught by Brightmail filters is of a business orientation but that's changing.

"It's spam about products like mortgages or whatever and people are seeing it as just another form of advertising. I hear about cheap mortgages on the radio, I get an e-mail about them. It's seen as the same thing." Sexton says it's the other, fraudulent kind of spam that is truly dangerous.

"They're after your PIN or your credit card numbers. They're cunning so they don't nail your account straight away, they direct you to a Web site and let you do whatever it is you're supposed to be doing and then a month later they take the money from your account." In addition to credit cards, Sexton says Brightmail is seeing a lot of identity theft in South East Asia.

"They're after social security numbers or, like we've seen here in New Zealand, government information from users." Sexton says since Brightmail is now covering so many individual users' addresses the next big target for spammers is the corporation. Most ISPs that do filter for spam don't provide the service for business customers, says Sexton, and so Brightmail is talking with corporations about filtering at their gateways.

"We see a huge potential for spam filtering at that level as well as at the ISP." Sexton is in New Zealand to talk with customers, prospective clients and the government about its proposed anti-spam legislation.

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