Xmas increases spam by 650 percent

Inboxes are being flooded with junk emails at an increasing rate during the holiday season, leading to network overload and fast-spreading viruses

The festive spirit has seen Christmas email spam swell 650 percent since this time last year, heightening the risks associated with unprotected networks and placing a burden on workplace bandwidth, according to SurfControl Australia.

SurfControl's Australian content development team has identified the 650 percent increase, which is reflective of a global trend, SurfControl Australia managing director, Charles Heunemann, told ZDNet Australia.

During non-holiday periods 60 percent of junk emails are regurgitated around the Web and the 650 percent increase is indicative of new junk email submissions to SurfControl's RiskFilter database --- which categorises junk email and blocks it from entering a customer's network.

"What's happening now is people are getting fun Christmas games but amongst them all are things like the Goner virus," Heunemann said.

"The consequences can be quite disastrous, especially for organistations with a lot of email users with lots of addresses in their book...it can create quite an email storm," he added.

Also, recipients of email greetings, games, screensavers and movie files, often hoard them in their inbox, with one 5MB holiday screensaver taking the same amount of space on a company server as 160 plain text emails, according to Heunemann.

"Holiday emails, such as the ever-circulating elf bowling game and a host of prank, joke and game messages, carry huge payloads that rob a company of valuable network resources and interfere with productivity," he said.

"The ongoing cost to organisations is quite high," Heunemann added.

For everything Internet-related, from the latest legal and policy-related news, to domain name updates, see ZDNet UK's Internet News Section.

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