A new report from leading IT security firm Symantec states that global spam messages have declined by almost 50 per cent since August this year. It ascribes the decrease to recent arrests and the closure of several botnet groups.
Recently, police in the Netherlands shut down servers associated with the Bredolab botnet, while in the past month a Zeus ring was cracked by crime fighters in the UK and US.
However, the report also stated that phishing increased by 0.3 per cent in the past month, primarily as a result of automated toolkit attacks.
It added that the number of phishing sites on social media increased by about 80 per cent compared with last month. These sites are designed to fool users into giving away their confidential information, including usernames and passwords, and sometimes financial information.
Despite the overall drop in spam, the report also indicated that cyber criminals have already begun their annual Christmas blitz. This includes emails and websites offering goods, often purporting to be from a reputable brand.
"Each Christmas we see a couple of thousand websites purporting to be bona fide tradename websites, but which are fake," said Charlie McMurdie, lead for the Police Central e-crime Unit. "Reputable firms can lose significant trade to these sites," she added.