SOURCE: Proofpoint

December 18, 2008 08:00 ET

From the Serious to the Silly: Proofpoint's 2008 Email Year in Review

SUNNYVALE, CA--(Marketwire - December 18, 2008) - According to Proofpoint, the leading provider of unified email security, archiving and data loss prevention solutions, 2008 saw its fair share of email peaks and troughs. Many of the year's most notable stories focused on continued vigilance in stifling spammers, how major well-known institutions are struggling with email archiving and preventing internal data leaks, new encryption edicts, and general tomfoolery when it comes to using today's most mission critical enterprise application -- email.

Following its recent recount of the scariest moments in email in 2008 (click here), Proofpoint identifies several of the more widely covered email stories over the past 12 months.

1) Stop at nothing spammers

Just weeks after the well-documented shutdown of major spam host McColo in November, which led to spam volume dropping by about 60%, the spammers and malicious botnets are proving relentless (as they always do). Computers that are part of the Srizbi, Rustock, Cutwail and Asprox botnets are apparently becoming active again. The Proofpoint Attack Response Center reports that spam volumes are now down only 25% from the high levels right before the McColo shutdown. With the volume of spam, phish and other malicious email messages accelerating, consumers should be mindful of these "Five Golden Rules" for staying safe online.

2) Tough laws CAN work

In 2008, authorities seriously cracked down on spammers more than ever before by enforcing the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. For example, In July, Robert Soloway, who authorities have dubbed the "Spam King," was sentenced to nearly four years in prison after pleading guilty to tax evasion and email and wire fraud. Soloway's case was closely watched because only a few such spam cases have ever been tried.

Also in July, Adam Vitale was sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered to pay AOL $180,000 in restitution for blasting AOL subscribers with spam over a four-month period. He was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan.

More recently, a U.S. federal judge ordered Adam Guerbuez to pay Facebook a record $873 million in damages for breaking into the online social networking site and sending its members "sleazy" junk emails.

3) From media hack to email hack

In November, Philadelphia television news anchor Larry Mendte was sentenced to six months of house arrest, with three years probation, 250 hours of community service and a $5,000 fine for hacking into a coworker's email and spreading rumors that got her fired. Mendte accessed co-anchor Alycia Lane's email accounts hundreds of times and leaked her personal information to a Philadelphia Daily News reporter.

4) Economy extends encryption enforcement

Massachusetts' Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation (OCABR) extended the deadline for compliance with standards for how businesses protect, store and transmit consumers' personal information. The regulations were initially set to take effect on January 1, 2009, but in light of intervening economic circumstances, OCABR has extended the deadline in order to provide flexibility to businesses that may be experiencing financial challenges brought on by national and international economic conditions. The new general compliance deadline is May 1, 2009.

5) President Bush's backup flap

The White House's email challenges continued in November as a Washington judge refused to dismiss a lawsuit that alleges the Bush administration improperly deleted emails.

The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and the National Security Archive may pursue their case as they press the administration to recover millions of possibly missing electronic messages over a 700-day period.

6) Spam turns 30

Spam celebrated its 30th birthday in May, having come a long way since Digital Equipment Corp marketing manager Gary Thuerk sent an unsolicited email to over 600 Arpanet users. Much like today, the recipients were not pleased at the invitation to learn about DEC's new line of mainframes. According to InfoWorld, Major Raymond Czahor wrote, "This was a flagrant violation of the use of ARPANet as the network is to be used for official U.S. government business only. Appropriate action is being taken to preclude its occurrence again."

7) Preparing for e-discovery boom

As experts and regulators look to point fingers and assess blame for September's Wall Street meltdown, requests for data and documentation will come fast and furious. According to Wall Street & Technology, the FBI already announced that it is investigating Freddie Mac, AIG and Lehman, and it is expected that countless other firms will be asked to produce data to support other investigations.

8) Obama & BlackBerry?

Should President-elect Obama follow suit and give up his BlackBerry and personal email exchanges? There is certainly an argument for security reasons and location, but there is also the fact that technology was a major contributor to his winning campaign...

9) NFL fan gets nasty email from GM

Email truly is the communication method of every industry. In November, Cleveland Browns general manager Phil Savage sent a profane email in response to a fan following a Monday night game.

"These stories and others illustrate the potential for email to embarrass and endanger if not managed properly," said Keith Crosley, director of market development at Proofpoint. "The shocking fact is that despite all of the email mishaps in 2008, many individuals and businesses fall short in managing the risks posed by both inbound and outbound email."

About Proofpoint, Inc.

Proofpoint secures and improves enterprise email infrastructure with solutions for email security, archiving, encryption and data loss prevention. Proofpoint solutions defend against spam and viruses, prevent leaks of confidential and private information, encrypt sensitive emails and archive messages for retention, e-discovery and easier mailbox management. Proofpoint solutions can be deployed on-premises (appliance), on-demand (SaaS) or in a hybrid architecture for maximum flexibility and scalability. For more information, please visit

Proofpoint is a registered trademarks of Proofpoint, Inc. All other trademarks contained herein are the property of their respective owners.

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