Report: holidays bring "tsunami of spam"

The advent of the holiday season has brought with it a more than 20%t increase in the volume of spam traffic, according to a statement released by Brightmail.

          The advent of the holiday season has brought with it a more than 20%t increase in the volume of spam traffic, according to a statement released by Brightmail.

          The San Francisco-based company, which sells products and services that help companies identify and block email viruses and spam, processed over 16 billion spam messages in the past 30 days, a 21% increase over the number of spam messages blocked in the period prior to the Thanksgiving holiday, according to Brightmail.

          The company, which was founded in 1998, says it had noted the increase in spam traffic in the weeks leading up to Christmas and New Year's in previous years, and that it was prepared for the increase in spam traffic this year.

          Brightmail's statistics are accumulated from its Probe Network, which is described on the company's website as a collection of decoy email accounts that are specially designed to attract spam messages. The network has a "statistical reach" of over 100 million mailboxes, according to Brightmail.

          All messages that land in the decoy email accounts are considered by Brightmail to be spam. The company uses the network of accounts to detect developing spam attacks and to create filter rules that its customers can use to block the spam from their own messaging servers.

          Brightmail did not offer any explanation or theories about the uptick in spam traffic during the holidays.

          The flood of spam traffic generally dies down after the New Years holiday, according to Brightmail. However, that respite may be short-lived.

          Brightmail predicted a continued increase in the volume of spam during 2003. Spam already made up 40% of all internet email traffic in 2002, up from just 8% of email traffic in 2001, the company says.

          Statistics released by Brightmail show that of the more that 5.5 million unique spam messages detected by the company in November, more than 75% were solicitations for consumer products, financial services, and adult content.

          The remaining 25% of spam messages were linked to online scams or offered information on health, spiritual, leisure and other topics, according to Brightmail.

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