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Spam volumes shrink over festive season

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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." ®

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