Email spam levels drop below 50 percent for the first time in 12 years

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Spam email is dropping.

49.7 percent of anything may sound like a lot, but it's a historical low for spam email levels - it's the lowest share recorded by Symantec since September 2003, so progress is being made.

Back then, Tony Blair was the UK PM and Apple was about to release Mac OS X Panther. The world was still waiting for the final Matrix film and bopping along to the Black Eyed Peas' Where Is The Love?

The figure is dropping slowly: it was 52.1 percent in April and 51.5 percent in May. Phishing rates and email-based malware are also down on recent numbers, according to the Symantec blog.

Malware jump

However, Symantec warns there's no time to relax and turn off your security applications. It looks like cybercriminals are switching to malware and ransomware to achieve their ends rather than spam email.

477,000 ransomware attacks were detected by Symantec in June. 57.6 million new types of malware were logged, a big jump from the 44.5 million found during May. A mere 29.2 million new variants were seen in April.

"This increase in [malware] 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," said Symantec's Ben Nahorney as the report was published.

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.