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Tech by VICE

Email Spam is Dying Out

But malware is on the rise.

by Rachel Pick
Jul 17 2015, 7:00pm

Photo: Susan Sermoneta/Flickr

For the first time in 12 years, spam made up less than 50 percent of all email.

According to Symantec's latest monthly threat report, only 49.7 percent of email sent this June was spam. While still a pretty dang high percentage, it's the lowest since September 2003.

Better tools like enhanced spam filters and more frequent prosecution of spam producers have helped cut down on spam. But for those of us who grew up with the internet and got the occasional laugh out of spam's unintentional and bizarre poetry, this is a mildly bittersweet fadeout.

More troubling is the rise in malware. Symantec says that while emails with malware attached and old-school password phishing scams are down, the number of malware variants being produced is up. Ransomware (a nasty little creation that holds access to a device hostage until the victim pays a fee) in particular is on the rise, with Symantec spotting about half a million ransomware attacks in June alone.

So spam might be on the wane, but it just means email attacks are getting more clever and insidious. No word yet on where I can buy pills to enlarge my penis.