Feeds

Google: botnet takedowns fail to stem spam tide

'If one goes offline, spammers buy, rent, or deploy another'

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Spam levels have remained resolutely stable despite recent botnet takedowns, according to a survey from Google's email filtering business.

Google Postini reports no lasting effect from the recent takedown of spam-spewing botnet, such as Mariposa and Mega-D. The command-and-control servers associated with the Mega-D botnet were isolated towards the end of 2009, effectively decapitating one of the top-10 junk mail sources.

Early this year, government agencies and security firms teamed up to take-down several other botnet targets - including Waledac, Mariposa, and Zeus - using similar tactics. The operations are these botnets were either curtailed (Mariposa) or severely hampered in the process (Zeus).

These combined efforts have failed to make much difference in the volumes of spam circulating online. Spam and virus levels did dip down 12 per cent from a Q409 high but held "relatively steady" throughout the first quarter of 2010, Google Postini reports.

"This suggests that there’s no shortage of botnets out there for spammers to use," a blog post by Postini researchers notes. "If one botnet goes offline, spammers simply buy, rent, or deploy another, making it difficult for the anti-spam community to make significant inroads in the fight against spam with individual botnet takedowns."

The Google spam filtering division concludes that going after botnets is no more effective than the previous tactic of targeting rogue ISPs. The takedown of rogue ISP 3FN bought a temporary respite from the spam deluge for about a month. However, after Real Host, another ISP, was taken out months later spam volumes recovered after only two days. The marked difference was due to use of improved disaster recovery approaches by cybercriminals.

Google's conclusions are based on an analysis of spam volumes flowing into the email in-boxes of 18 million business users working for of 50,000 organisation protected by Postini's technology. Analysis of the junk mail traffic blocked by Google's technology also shows a 30 per cent increase in the size of individual spam messages toward the end of March - signs of a possible resurgence in the use of image spam - and the use of natural disasters (such as the Haiti earthquake) and celebrity gossip in a bid to persuade recipients to waste time on junk mail messages, some of which form the kick-off point of financial fraud.

The prevalence of malware within spam, which rose from 0.3 per cent at the start of 2009 to 3.7 per cent in the second half of last year, fell back to 1.1 per cent in the first quarter of 2010. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
China is ALREADY spying on Apple iCloud users, claims watchdog
Attack harvests users' info at iPhone 6 launch
Carders punch holes through Staples
Investigation launched into East Coast stores
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.