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Jesse Joe 07-16-2010 07:37 AM

NB is top province for spam e-mails

New Brunswick is top province for spam e-mails

Published Friday July 16th, 2010
If your inbox is full of spam, you're not alone

FREDERICTON - New Brunswick is the most spammed province in Canada. The province's junk e-mail rate of 92.5 per cent is even higher than the global average 89.3 per cent. And ironically, one of the reasons we're getting the most spam in our inbox may be because we've been so successful in getting everybody access to high-speed Internet.

"That is always a concern," said Paul Wood, MessageLabs Intelligence senior analyst for Symantec Hosted Services, in a telephone interview from the United Kingdom yesterday.

"We have seen that in other parts of the world where ... they have a plan to roll out high-speed, broadband connections."

New Brunswick is the only province in Canada with 100 per cent coverage of broadband Internet. The Liberal government just finished a $13-million project to extend that coverage to all rural areas at rates that match urban areas.

"The fact that you have more people online means you have more computers that can be exploited or compromised," said Wood.
Social media such as Facebook is particularly bad for providing information for spammers, he said.

"The information we post about ourselves can be very valuable to the bad guys," said Wood. "We really need to understand what we are doing online and why we are doing it.

"We need to be a bit more careful about what we post about ourselves."

MessageLabs Intelligence is an Internet security company with 30,000
Internet business clients around the world in 100 countries. Last month, the company did an analysis of the spam it's been blocking for the last 10 months to come up with information on who's suffering from the most spam.

So why is New Brunswick so hard hit by unsolicited e-mail beside the fact we have lots of new people online?

"From a spammers' perspective, they don't really care where you are so they are not particularly targeting New Brunswick," said Wood. "What we find is it's the type of businesses and even the size of businesses and even how they use e-mail ... that are factors that are more likely to determine the amount of spam you will receive.

"New Brunswick seems to have a slightly higher density of those businesses."

Spammers combine dictionaries of first and last names to come up with e-mail addresses and that seems to hit home and small- and -medium-sized businesses harder than large businesses, he said.

Another factor is the type of business.

Wood said the hospitality sector gets hit hard at 92.3 per cent because it tends to communicate person-to-person.

To fight spam Symantec makes the following recommendations:

* use your real e-mail address only for trusted contacts and use disposable e-mail addresses for other online use

* never reply to unsolicited e-mails

* never click on hyperlinks in unsolicited e-mails

* don't open attachments in spam e-mails

* don't open pictures in unsolicited e-mail

* use privacy controls on social media

* beware of spam related to major news stories, which are used by spammers to get you to open unsolicited e-mail

Wood said spam is a global problem with 120 billion new unsolicited e-mails sent every day. While New Brunswick is the most spammed province in Canada, the gap between first and last isn't huge, said Wood. Newfoundland is the lowest province at 86 per cent.

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