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Botnet takedowns curb spam volumes

Spam almost cut in half between August and October

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Spam volumes almost halved in the three months between August and the end of October, according to Symantec.

Symantec’s hosted services unit (formerly MessageLabs) credits a 47 per cent sharp decrease in global spam volumes to action by the authorities against botnets and organised cybercrooks. In October, authorities in the Netherlands took down several servers associated with the Bredolab botnet. The action followed the September closure of spamit.com, a key player in the unlicensed pharmaceuticals spam racket, and arrests in the US, UK and Ukraine of scores of suspected members of a ZeuS phishing Trojan ring.

The net effect of these actions was a reduction of spam volumes to their lowest level since September 2009. Even with this progress almost nine in 10 email messages (86.6 per cent) are junk mail or worse, as explained in Symantec's report here (PDF).

A similar study by Kaspersky Lab, published on Wednesday, also reports a drop in spam volumes in Q3 2010 to around 82.3 per cent. It credits the disabling of control nodes for the Pushdo / Cutwail botnet (blamed for one in 10 junk mail messages worldwide) and the closure of Spamit.com for the decline in spam volumes. The Russian security firm warns. however, that ads touting penis pills are unlikely to shrivel up and die.

“The closure of one partner program — even a major one — will only result in a temporary decrease in the amount of advertisements for Viagra in our inboxes; the spammers aren’t about  to abandon such a lucrative business,” said Darya Gudkova, head of content analysis & research at Kaspersky Lab. ®

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