Microsoft: Spam level now at 97%

Redmond (WA) – It seems that Bill Gates’ 2004 prediction that there would be no spam anymore within a couple of years was wrong. According to Microsoft’s latest Security Intelligence Report, the number of spam messages has reached a dramatic level of 97% of all emails sent. However, the report covered a variety of security concerns and had some good news as well. Discovered vulnerabilities in software, for example, is down from its 2007 highs.

Microsoft’s researchers found that only three in 100 emails sent is an actual message you may want to read and that does not contain malicious attachments, phishing attacks or spam. There was no change in spam content, which typically pitches pharmaceutical products (48.6% of the total). Product-focused spam accounted for 72.2% of spam in the second half of 2008.

However, as far as security threats are concerned, the number of unique vulnerabilities is down about 12% from its H1 2007 high to just under 3000 disclosures in the second half of 2008. 52% of those threats were categorized as critical, but were down 16% from 2007. 8.8% of vulnerabilities affected operating systems, 4.5% browsers and the remaining 86.7% other applications.

In terms of actual security breaches, about 50% of reports are based on stolen (33.5%) or lost (16.5%) computers. Hacks account for about 15% of breaches, Microsoft said.

The company claims that Vista users are affected by far less security issues than Windows XP users. According to Microsoft, Windows XP computers are showing the most security problems, followed by XP SP1, XP SP2, XP SP3, Vista, Vista SP1 and Vista 64-bit. The most secure operating system is Windows Server 2008, according to the released charts.

The report can be downloaded here.