Spam levels dropping by a third – security company

Email security company SoftScan claims spam levels dropped an unprecedented 30 per cent in the last week.

Spam levels dropping by a third - security company

The reason behind the drop could be because one of the main botnets used for sending out spam email might have temporarily lost control of the infected machines in its network.

Other possibilities include the effect of earthquakes in Asia or the fact that more PCs would have been turned off over the Christmas break or replaced with new models.

However, the drop doesn’t appear to have been as sudden as the removal of thousands of machines from the Internet by an earthquake would show. And given that drops in spam levels haven’t been seen in previous Christmas holidays suggest that this too is unlikely to be the cause of the fall.

Whatever the reason, SurfControl claims last week has witnessed very unusual behaviour in spam levels.

‘During the last few days SoftScan is seeing very volatile numbers, some days it’s almost back to the level before Christmas and other a drop of almost 50 per cent,’ we were told.

But the blip in spam’s ascendency is just that: it continues to hover in the high 80s percentage points in terms of all email.

‘When you can easily buy kits that allow anyone to start their spam business with just a few clicks of the mouse, it’s no wonder that spam levels are at breaking point,’ says Diego d’Ambra, CTO of SoftScan. ‘If spam distribution levels continue to rise at the rate we have seen over the past few months, then I believe that by the end of 2007 governments worldwide will be obliged to enforce international anti-spam laws for the sake of commerce.

‘It is critical that we find a way to destroy the growing army of botnets that distribute the vast majority of spam, both law enforcement and educating users will help,’ he added, ‘but I’m not sure it will be enough and the industry needs to work together to find a way.’

Other security companies have not seen the spam dip reported by SoftScan. Sophos told us it was unaware of the event SoftScan is reporting, while MessageLabs said: ‘During the holiday period there was a slight drop in botnet activity due to home users being offline and new PCs replacing compromised ones, however this has not caused a 30 per cent drop in spam levels – spam levels continue to stay at the same alarming levels which were experienced by unprotected individuals in late 2006.’

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