Friday, July 1, 2011

Why are spam levels declining?

Some very interesting figures came out this week.

Apparently, spam volumes have dropped significantly, compared to their all-time record high levels of last year.

At this time last year, unsolicited bulk commercial email messages (spam by any other name) represented around 90% of all emails transported across the ether. This year, that figure is down to just 75%.

So, either we're sending a lot more legitimate mail -- or spammers are having trouble finding customers willing to pay for their nasty marketing practices.

Fortunately for us, it appears as if the latter is true.

The Bagel botnet for instance, has shown a marked reduction in spam volumes coming from its machines -- down from 8.3bn to just 1.6bn per day in the last three months.

Some security analysts are suggesting that the decline in spam is being caused partly by the increased attention being given to killing the botnets, both by technology vendors and law-enforcement. Indeed, a number of high-profile "botnet-busts" have been carried out during the past 12 months and each time spam levels have fallen as a result.

Another possible reason for the decline in spam levels is that the botmasters have found it easier to make money by using their networks to launch denial-of-service attacks, either from on a "pay per kill" basis or by way of blackmailing the intended target.

Further moves to cripple the spammers infrastructure by removing the payment channels being used are also paying dividends.

Could it be that the era of spam will soon be behind us?

Not likely!

So long as someone thinks they can sell something to some hapless internet user, there will always be spam. The best we can hope for is that eventually, the level of spam drops to little more than a background noise.

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