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Computer spammers gear up for holiday season

Computer viruses have greatest surge since 2008

Computer spammers may be preparing to wreak havoc on users’ computers in the run-up to Christmas, security experts from Google have warned.

According to the Google Postini Services, the team that powers Google’s email security and archiving services, in August there was a 241% increase in virus activity over July, representing the greatest recorded surge in viral activity since 2008.

In addition, August witnessed the highest registered number of viruses blocked in a single day: 188 million, the team said. Overall, payload virus volume increased 42% over the second quarter of 2010 and rose 10% in the third quarter.

Spam activity, however, decreased 16% and 24% over the same periods respectively.

The dramatic increase in virus activity makes your online safety paramount. Take a look at free Which? advice to see what precautions to take when entering your personal details online 

Higher spamming levels likely, warn Google experts

Writing on the official Google Enterprise Blog, Adrian Soghoian and Adam Hollman from Google Postini Services Team, said: ‘The [third quarter’s] spam and virus trends confirm that spammers are still hard at work distributing malicious content in new and creative ways.

‘The spike in malware attacks during August suggests that we might see higher levels of spam moving forward into the [fourth quarter] as botnet “seeds” planted during this time begin to take action.’

They added: ‘This recent surge in viral activity could indicate a “gearing up” as spammers attempt to construct botnets in time for the holiday season and increased consumer spending. With the commercialisation of spam in 2006, we’ve often seen a correlation between spam, malware campaigns and consumer patterns.’

Google is warning computers users to be on the lookout for suspicious email language and to exercise extreme caution when clicking on links. The Google team said links and emails sent from unknown senders should be scrutinized fully before any further action is taken.

Stay safe online with Which? online security advice – including additional measures you can take to improve your online safety and reviews of the best security software

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