Security threat statistics: Symantec July 2011 Intelligence Report

The Symantec Intelligence report for July 2011 yielded some interesting malware, phishing and spam statistics for South Africa. We have lost the  crown of “Most targeted geography for phishing e-mails” to the UK, though phishing still remains a popular in South Africa with one in 163.1 e-mails identified as Phishing attacks. Despite the drop in phishing attacks, spam remains high in South Africa where it accounted for 76.9 percent of e-mail traffic.

The intelligence report also shows that malware variants are on the rise at at alarming rate. According to senior intelligence analyst for, Paul Wood, “The number of variants, or different strains of malware involved in each attack has grown dramatically, by a factor of 25 times, when compared to the previous six months.”

Other highlights of the report include:

Spam: In July 2011, the global ratio of spam in e-mail traffic rose to 77.8 percent (one in 1.29 e-mails); an increase of 4.9 percentage when compared with June 2011.

Phishing: In July, phishing e-mail activity increased by 0.01 percentage points since June 2011; one in 319.3 e-mails (0.313 percent) comprised some form of phishing attack.

E-mail-borne Threats: The global ratio of e-mail-borne viruses in e-mail traffic was one in 280.9 e-mails (0.333 percent) in July, an increase of 0.01 percentage points since June 2011.

Web-based Malware Threats: In July, Symantec Intelligence identified an average of 6,797 Web sites each day harbouring malware and other potentially unwanted programs including spyware and adware; an increase of 25.5 percent since June 2011.

Endpoint Threats: The most frequently blocked malware for the last month was W32.Ramnit!html. This is a generic detection for .HTML files infected by W32.Ramnit, a worm that spreads through removable drives and by infecting executable files.

In term of geographical trends, South Africa remains a highly targeted country. Geographical trend highlights include:


  • As the global spam level declined in July 2011, Saudi Arabia remained the most spammed geography, with a spam rate of 85.6 percent. Russia remained the second most-spammed.
  • The spam level in the UK was 78.2 percent.
  • In The Netherlands, spam accounted for 78.8 percent of e-mail traffic, 77.9 percent in Germany, 77.6 percent in Denmark and 75.8 percent in Australia.
  • In Hong Kong, 76.8 percent of e-mail was blocked as spam and 75.7 percent in Singapore, compared with 74.7 percent in Japan.


  • Phishing attacks in the UK increased to overtake South Africa and become the most targeted geography for phishing e-mails in July, with one in 127.9 e-mails identified as phishing attacks. Phishing in South Africa fell, with one in 163.1 e-mails identified as phishing attacks.
  • Phishing levels for the US were one in 1,237 and one in 192.6 for Canada.
  • In Australia, phishing activity accounted for one in 850.8 e-mails and one in 2,503 in Hong Kong; for Japan it was one in 13,167 and one in 872.9 for Singapore.

E-mail-borne threats

  • E-mail-borne malware attacks rose in South Africa as the country became the geography with the highest ratio of malicious e-mails in July, overtaking the UK as one in 125.2 e-mails was identified as malicious in July; in the UK one in 127.0 e-mails was malicious.
  • In the US, virus levels for e-mail-borne malware were one in 634.8 and one in 255.9 for Canada.  .
  • In Australia, one in 654.8 e-mails were malicious and one in 748.7 in Hong Kong; for Japan it was one in 2,093, compared with one in 761.8 in Singapore.

Vertical Trends:

  • In July, the Automotive industry sector remained the most spammed industry sector, with a spam rate of 80.7 percent.
  • Phishing levels for the Chemical & Pharmaceutical sector were one in 799.0 and one in 566.2 for the IT Services sector; one in 482.3 for Retail, one in 87.8 for Education and one in 396.7 for Finance.
  • With one in 62.1 e-mails being blocked as malicious, the Public Sector remained the most targeted industry in July.

The July 2011 Symantec Intelligence Report provides full detail on all of the trends and figures above, as well as more detailed geographical and vertical trends. The full report is available for download here: July 2011 Symantec Intelligence Report.

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Security threat statistics: Symantec July 2011 Intelligence Report