Have email viruses had their day?

Some attendees at the Infosecurity Europe conference think the email virus' heyday is over, but a number of experts aren't so sure

Attendees at the Infosecurity Europe conference in London have predicted the end of email-borne viruses, suggesting the problem has simply had its day.

However, the most severe issue users now face is the growing problem of spyware, according to some, which is more than ready, willing and able to fill the void.

Dan Hubbard, senior director of Websense Security Labs, told ZDNet UK sister site silicon.com the number of email-borne viruses is falling and will continue to do so, while David Perry, global director of education at Trend Micro, said these things come in ages and the age of email viruses has simply come to an end.

Larry Bridwell, content security programs manager at ICSA Labs, added: "If you look at virus history I liken it to the ocean. You stand by the ocean in California and see these great big waves coming in, getting bigger and bigger before they hit the shore. People are always going to surf each of those waves as it comes in.

"There's only so much you can do with email. The problem people face now in using that to carry out any criminal act is that we know how email works and we know how to stop it."

However, he warned the problem of malicious code in other forms won't go away.

"These waves don't die, that water goes back out into the ocean and people will surf in on the next big wave."

Many at Infosecurity this week believe that next wave, upon us now, is the problem of spyware.

Pete Simpson, ThreatLab manager at Clearswift, said: "Spyware definitely seems to be the theme of the show."

But he's not convinced we've quite seen the end of the email virus just yet.

"It's difficult to say whether it's not just a lull. We've certainly seen a stop in the large numbers."

ICSA Labs' Bridwell believes there will always be those at the cruder end of the cybercrime spectrum who try to keep 'the art' alive.

"As long as young boys are spraying graffiti on the Tube there will also be people trying to send email viruses," he said.

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