Where's the Spam?

Global spam volume has dropped markedly in the past few months. Looking at statistics reported by Symantec, the overall number of spam messages being sent at the end of December was the lowest data point measured during the last 365 days.

Perhaps a piece of the lower spam levels can be attributed to worldwide law enforcement upping their involvement in taking down some of the larger spammers and botnets. Back in March we noted that the "Mariposa" botnet had been dismantled along with the alleged people organizing it being arrested. Similar stories popped up in the headlines throughout 2010. Governments have also been passing newer, tougher legislations against spam. For example, Canada now has an anti-spam law where convicted spam violators can face up to a $10 million fine.

Another piece of the more recent drop in spam can be attributed to the largest known botnets, like Rustock and Lethic, drastically dropping the overall volume of spam they are sending out. In a recent article published on ZDNet UK, "Spam drops sharply over Christmas", senior analyst Paul Wood at MessageLabs (subsidiary of Symantec) was quoted saying "Rustock is sending spam in much-reduced volumes, while the other two botnets have stopped sending spam altogether".

Will the downward trend in spam continue in 2011, or are the spammers simply taking a hiatus and refueling for their next attack? Stay tuned.

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