Spam volumes shrink over festive season
Even miscreants like to make merry
Spam volumes have witnessed a dramatic drop of more than 50 per cent since Christmas.
Global junk mail volumes have reached their lowest level since the November 2008 shutdown of rogue ISP McColo, Symantec's net filtering business MessageLabs reports.
MessageLabs attributes the drop to a production break from the Rustock, Lethic and Xarvester botnets. Rustock has all but shut down while the fiendish hackers behind the Lethic and Xarvester have also gone quiet.
By contrast, two other significant sources of spam - Gheg and Cutwail - are pumping out junk mail at much the same volumes as ever, as a graph from MessageLabs explains.
MessageLabs reckons the drop is unlikely to be anything more than a temporary respite from the (almost) relentless torrent of nuisance email messages touting penis pills, "investment opportunities", smut and other assorted tat.
Mathew Nisbet, a malware data analyst at MessageLabs Symantec, writes: "At present we don't know why these botnets have stopped spamming, perhaps the botnet herders have decided they need a holiday too?
"Whilst this is an excellent gift over the holiday season for anyone who regularly uses email, we would not expect the level of spam to stay this low for long." ®
Spammers on holiday?
Or just lots of bot nets thinned out because of infected machines being switched off over the break with employees off for the holiday?
The graph I looked at shows an approximately 70% drop between August and Christmas and then a further (and steeper) 65% drop on Christmas day. So - both statements could be true.
These numbers should be treated with caution - they are estimated from the fairly low detail graphic and my booze addled brain and/or failing eyesight might have intervened.
I wonder if this is the start of the campaign ...
I have just received an opening, softening up, email saying that the (US) IRS will pay me $5010.11 as a "Home Equity Account holder". And advising me that the NEXT email will be asking for all my personal particulars. In the meantime send my name address and phone number to an email address email@example.com !
I hope the bit bucket doesn't get too full too quickly, cos the bin men still haven't caught up after their holidays!