The report from Symantec that made headlines last month saw many people breathe a sigh of relief. For the first time in more than a decade, twelve years to be precise, less than fifty percent of all emails sent were scanned as spam. This was big news.
However, perhaps we shouldn’t all breathe a sigh of relief just yet. For whilst email spam, the most common form of spam for many years, may have declined slightly over the course of a few months, we should know that this isn’t the end of malicious emails, spam, or cybercriminal activity in general. Cybercriminals are just using a variety of different ways to target us.
And to their credit, Symantec did say as much. “This increase in activity lends more evidence to the idea that, with the continued drops in email-based malicious activity, attackers are simply moving to other areas of the threat landscape,” wrote Ben Nahorney, a Symantec employee who co-authored the headline making report.
The US firm also stated that there has been a significant increase in the number of malware variants that are being produced over the past few recent months, with the amount of malware produced doubling between April and June this year to 57.6 million individual pieces of malware.
“We are in a constant arms race,” says Andrew Conway, a research analyst at security company Cloudmark, “with spammers continually coming up with new techniques that we have to deal with, and it would be hubris to declare victory.”
Mr Nahorney also wrote, “attackers are simply moving to other areas of the threat landscape,” and this trend is partly what explains the recent reduction in email-based cybercriminal activity over the past few months. Another notable trend that explains the reduction are the successful law enforcement operations carried out recently.