The number of spam messages being sent globally is reaching new heights, with nearly 90 percent of all emails sent last month being illegitimate.

A new report from security firm Symantec reveals that spam levels jumped 5.5 percent in February, comprising 89.4 percent of all messages sent.

Spam levels in Hong Kong reached 90.6 per cent and virus activity in China was the highest in the world in February, the MessageLabs Intelligence Report said.

In Singapore, one out of every 319.2 e-mails contained a virus in a period when the total spam volume globally increased by about 25 per cent.

The Symantec report said much of the increase in spam was due to February's Valentine's day that spammers tried to capitalize on, and Canadian pharmacy-style spams.

It certainly appears that the spammers promoting these 'Canadian Pharmacy' websites have been using multiple botnets

to distribute several high-volume spam campaigns during February, all leading to the same ...websites, the report said.

In particular, the firm traced a majority of the increase due to two the Grum and Runstock botnets -- a network of compromised computers.

Smaller sized spam also allowed spammers to turn up the volume.

In the past year, the number of attachments diminished from 10 per cent in April 2009, to less than one per cent in February 2010. The average file size of a spam e-mail has fallen from 5 kilobytes in October 2009 to 3.3 kilobytes in February 2010.