Spam Email levels At An All Time Low
To our surprise, this festive season came with a huge decline in spam volumes. Unlike the past years where Christmas and New Year celebrations where opportunities grabbed by greedy spammers, end-users were spared the typical flood of unsolicited e-mails this time around. Instead, the levels of spam e-mails went down from about 200 billion in August 2010 to as little as 50 billion in the month of December 2010.
Senior analyst at Symantec Hosted Services, Paul Wood, noted that three of the largest spamming botnets curtailed their activity around the Christmas holidays. Mr Wood added that even notorious spambots such as Rustock, which at its peak is responsible for up to 48% of all spam, was only responsible for 0,5% of global spam in December. Other spamming botnets that went quiet include Xarvester and Lethic. Mr Wood noted that there have been huge drops in spam levels in the previous years however; he continued to say that “usually they have been associated with the botnets being disrupted. As far as we can tell Rustock is still intact.”
In this case it seems as though the controllers of Rustock and other spambots purposefully decided not to swamp the internet with spam this festive season. So the question is, why? According to research, spamming is still a very profitable business despite the stigma that comes with it; so why would spammers let profitable events like Christmas pass by and not maximize on the opportunity?
It could be that spammers have finally grown a conscience (which is highly unlikely) or they are regrouping and plotting the biggest spam campaign ever! Scary though isn’t it, makes you want to go out there and get the latest spam repellent before its too late! But on a more serious note, Carl Leonard, a researcher at Websense observed a new trend in spamming that might be the answer to the drop in e-mail spam. Mr Leonard said “There have, however, been signs that spammers are turning to alternative methods to e-mail for distributing their messages, such as Facebook and Twitter.” According to Mr Leonard, in December following a published list of possible passwords, Twitter accounts were hijacked and used to distribute diet pill spam.
Of course, for now, all of this is just speculation as nobody really knows the actually reason behind the drop in spam. So don’t get rid of that anti-virus or spam filter just yet, but go ahead and enjoy the low spam levels because you never know when the next spam attack will hit.