By Louis Charbonneau
Internet users around the world send an estimated 60 billion emails
every day and 80-85 percent of these are spam or scam attempts,
business leaders said on Tuesday.
Deutsche Telekom Chief Executive Kai-Uwe Ricke said cyber criminals
were growing more active and sophisticated, and the vast email traffic
meant industry, government and Internet users had to be vigilant and
"This figure was new for me as well -- worldwide there are around 60
billion emails sent every day," Telekom Chief Executive Kai-Uwe Ricke
told an Internet security conference.
"A large percent of it -- 80 or 85 percent is spam or fraud; it has
been as high as 90 percent in the USA, but not pesently," Microsoft
CEO Steve Ballmer added.
German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble warned of the recent
growth in "phishing" -- fishing for passwords, often via fake emails
that especially target online banking.
"In 2005, the attempts at phishing (globally) dramatically increased,
by 300 percent compared with the previous year," he said. "According
to international estimates, phishing is successful with up to 5
percent of all Internet users."
He said this success rate caused inestimable economic damage worldwide.
Internet security firm Symantec Corp registered some 8 million
phishing attempts last year.
Germany's BKA federal crime office said this month it had shut a
"phishing" ring of Germans and Lithuanians, sparing online banking
customers millions of euros of potential losses.
The BKA said the phishing ring obtained online banking customers' user
names and passwords and other sensitive data from their victims'
computers by means of a "Trojan horse," a self-circulating, virus-like
program that spreads by email and sends data from the infiltrated
computer back to the "phisher."
Schaeuble said many Germans used no form of Internet protection,
exposing themselves needlessly to phishing and other criminal attempts
to infiltrate their computers.
"One out of every four Germans is without anti-virus protection and
more than half had no firewalls," he said.
Ballmer said this situation was probably worse in the United States,
but there were signs Internet users were becoming better educated
about protecting themselves from cyber criminals.
He said it was important for software developers like Microsoft to
make their products as secure as possible. But he warned that improved
security would require the combined efforts of authorities, the
industry and users themselves.
"The hackers out there are really are smart and getting smarter. We
all have to run in front of them," Ballmer said, "basically, email
is almost a totally useless tool these days because of the huge
amount of fraud and spam circulating."
To improve U.S. cyber security, Ballmer said Microsoft would launch an
initiative next month in the United States modeled on a German
program, "Germany Safe on the Net," set up a year ago by Telekom,
Microsoft, the government and Internet-related firms to improve
Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.
redistribution of Reuters content is expressly prohibited without the prior
written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or
delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.
NOTE: For more telecom/internet/networking/computer news from the
daily media, check out our feature 'Telecom Digest Extra' each day at
http://telecom-digest.org/td-extra/more-news.html . Hundreds of new
articles daily. And, discuss this and other topics in our forum at
Other news headlines of interest are at: