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This year, spam has overtaken viruses as the dominant menace, with almost nine out of 10 emails worldwide being spam.

The statistics were reported by security services company MessageLabs in its 2006 Annual Intelligence report.

It found that Australia, along with Hong Kong and Singapore has seen the highest growth rate of spam year on year. In 2006 almost half (48 percent) of our email was spam, though virus levels declined compared to 2005.

The annual average spam rate was 86.2 percent, with botnets responsible for 80 percent of all spam in circulation, the company reported.

Phishing attacks also grew, with an average phishing rate of one in every 274.2 emails. MessageLabs says phishing attacks accounted for almost 25 percent of all malicious emails it intercepted this year.

“2006 was the year that spammers took the security industry by storm and showcased their new tactics and techniques for mass disruption,” said MessageLabs’ Mark Sunner.

Next year, MessageLabs predicts convergence between spam, viruses and spyware, with increasing instant messaging threats and attacks against sites such as MySpace, LinkedIn and Plaxo. In late 2007 the company also expects to see VoIP threats emerge as the technology receives widespread adoption.

See: www.messagelabs.com

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