Cybercrooks Deliver Trouble
With Spam Filters Working Overtime, Security Experts See No Letup in '07
By Brian Krebs
washingtonpost.com staff writer
Wednesday, December 27, 2006; D01
It was the year of computing dangerously, and next year could be worse.
That is the assessment of computer security experts, who said 2006 was
marked by an unprecedented spike in junk e-mail and more sophisticated
Internet attacks by cybercrooks.
Few believe 2007 will be any brighter for consumers, who already are
struggling to avoid the clever scams they encounter while banking,
shopping or just surfing online. Experts say online criminals are
growing smarter about hiding personal data they have stolen on the
Internet and are using new methods for attacking computers that are
harder to detect.
"Criminals have gone from trying to hit as many machines as possible
to focusing on techniques that allow them to remain undetected on
infected machines longer," said Vincent Weafer, director of security
response at Symantec, an Internet security firm in Cuptertino, Calif.
One of the best measures of the rise in cybercrime is junk e-mail, or
spam, because much of it is relayed by computers controlled by
Internet criminals, experts said. More than 90 percent of all e-mail
sent online in October was unsolicited junk mail, according to
Postini, an e-mail security firm in San Carlos, Calif. Spam volumes
monitored by Postini rose 73 percent in the past two months as
spammers began embedding their messages in images to evade junk e-mail
filters that search for particular words and phrases. In November,
Postini's spam filters, used by many large companies, blocked 22
billion junk-mail messages, up from about 12 billion in September.
The result is putting pressure on network administrators and corporate
technology departments, because junk mail laden with images typically
requires three times as much storage space and Internet bandwidth as a
text message, said Daniel Druker, Postini's vice president for