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Security Spam IT

The Significant Decline of Spam 263

Orome1 writes "In October Commtouch reported an 18% drop in global spam levels (comparing September and October). This was largely attributed to the closure of Spamit around the end of September. Spamit is the organization allegedly behind a fair percentage of the world's pharmacy spam. Analysis of the spam trends to date reveals a further drop in the amounts of spam sent during Q4 2010. December's daily average was around 30% less than September's. The average spam level for the quarter was 83% down from 88% in Q3 2010. The beginning of December saw a low of nearly 74%."
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The Significant Decline of Spam

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  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Thursday December 30, 2010 @10:22AM (#34710190)

    Just set up some email routers to automatically append text that insults Muhammad to all SPAM messages. Pretty soon the spammers will all have their buildings burned down, their families threatened, etc. You just use one set of assholes to attack another set of assholes--the perfect solution.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Just set up some email routers to automatically append text that insults Muhammad to all SPAM messages.

      Your post advocates a

      (*) stupid ( ) technical ( ) legislative ( ) market-based (*) vigilante

      approach to fighting spam. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. Aaaah who cares; I have to go to work.
    • Your post advocates a

      (*) technical ( ) legislative ( ) market-based (*) vigilante

      approach to fighting spam. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passed.)

      ( ) Spammers can easily use it to harvest email addresses
      ( ) Mailing lists and other legitimate email uses would be affected
      ( ) No one will be able to find the guy or collect the mone

  • So... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Thursday December 30, 2010 @10:28AM (#34710264) Journal
    Are we winning the war on spam, or are spammers(and their comparatively low returns) just being priced out of the botnet market by more lucrative cybercriminals, the DDoS extortion set, espionage agents public and private, various ideological axe grinders?

    Given the fairly low-effort, fairly low-return nature of spamming, I imagine that it is sort of the botnet equivalent of a "screensaver" mode. More valuable than doing nothing; but priced out of the market once a more serious set of criminals comes along(especially now that there are relatively few fully legal spamming locations. This isn't the old days when the world's spam king was some American prick with multiple T1s running to his house, sending spam quite openly right out of his home jurisdiction...)
    • Re:So... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by garcia ( 6573 ) on Thursday December 30, 2010 @10:43AM (#34710438)

      They can claim that spam is going down all they like but I haven't seen any reduction in my inbox and I have seen a HUGE increase (quick estimate is five-fold) in the spam comments which appear in my Akismet filter for Wordpress.

      • I will add my anecdotes to yours, my comments blocked due to spam content have gone up, my gmail spam box is about the same size, I publish my email address aggressively as demonstrated here.

    • Re:So... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Thursday December 30, 2010 @10:52AM (#34710548) Homepage

      1. At some point this summer FDA started looking into food supplements and actively removing "body builder" supplements which actually were a supplement for that muscle that is not quite muscle tissue and is affected by various sildenafil salts. A lot of SPAM was advertising these semi-legit operations and it is logical for it to reduce in volume as they get closed down.

      2. Facebook, LinkedIn and their like have become easier routes than mail with higher success rates.

      I would expect SPAM to decrease as a result of both of these even without major operations being taken down.

      • by Inda ( 580031 )
        Spam from LinkedIn...

        I saw an increase in spam from this site; a site I've never visited.

        LinkedIn's response to my complaint, after the 4th piece of spam from one of their users, who was advertising decorating services, was that I should be happy someone in the world wanted to make contact with me. You should be thankful we exist, Mr Inda. Without us your life would be poorer.

        I don't normally complain but LinkedIn emails get past Gmail's filters too easily.

        You can get your address blocked from LinkedIn by s
    • Re:So... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 30, 2010 @12:11PM (#34711478)

      While I'm not a spammer in the legal sense, because I'm CAN-SPAM compliant. Most people here would consider me a spammer, because of some mental disorder about curing the world of whatever it is they don't like (in this case marketing). I've made well over 200k this year. Yes, it is down a bit, but that's mainly due to some recent changes in spam filtering, but now those filters have been figured out. Next year will be great again.

      I'm in Las Vegas (spam beach west@!#$!!) and recently there was a guy arrested here for sending scam. It's reported he made over $500k this year and it's completly believable. That's something the antis don't understand there's LOTS of money in it and it's because of them. The tighter the filters get the more money we (that people who can get past them) make.

      This time of year there's 2 schools of thought. The first school of thought says mailing this time of year isn't worth the reward / risk, because most people are traveling and not in front of their computers. Where the risk is getting your ips hammered by blacklists before the new year. The other school of thought says mail as much as you can so your offers fill up their inbox / junk folders and have more ips than normal in reserve for when you get nailed for the increased volume.

      • Re:So... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by CohibaVancouver ( 864662 ) on Thursday December 30, 2010 @01:17PM (#34712222)
        I could probably make a lot of money scamming little old ladies, or working as a hitman or a pimp - However I choose not to because it's morally wrong. Just because I have no respect for you because you can make tons of cash spamming doesn't mean I have a mental disorder - It just means I have you in the same category as cowards who scam grannies.
      • In the immortal words of Bill Hicks "...kill yourself. Thank you. Just planting seeds, planting seeds is all I'm doing. No joke here, really. Seriously, kill yourself, you have no rationalisation for what you do, you are Satan's little helpers. Kill yourself, kill yourself, kill yourself now. Now, back to the show. Seriously, I know the marketing people: 'There's gonna be a joke comin' up.' There's no fuckin' joke. Suck a tail pipe, hang yourself...borrow a pistol from an NRA buddy, do something...rid the w
      • How do you make money? Do you sell stuff yourself, or do people pay you to promote their urls?

      • Go ahead and send spam. But what reason do you have to fight against a filter designed to stop you? That's right.. no good reason. It's just bad.

  • Perhaps the people who once bought v146r@ ch3ep are tired of getting tired of getting billed monthly for one bottle of placebo? No more financial incentive means greatly reduced spam?
  • by Trip6 ( 1184883 ) on Thursday December 30, 2010 @10:33AM (#34710324)

    When I first got email in the late 1800s there were no junk filters. Today, I specify a single spam mail as junk and I never see that type of spam again unless I want to.

    Spam less effective = less of it sent.

  • by Blymie ( 231220 )


    Quite a few percentages quoted, but no marker to base those percentages against.

    When are all these ups and downs being compared to? The article doesn't say. The summary doesn't say.

    Statements like "The average spam level for the quarter was 83% down from 88% in Q3 2010." clearly indicates that there is some point being tracked, prior to a half year ago.. but when? If spamit closed in September, why are figures from July-Sept showing a downtrend?


    • by higuita ( 129722 )

      i cant give you those answers, but i see a similar trend, spam is dropping since end of August/start of September

      check the graph (rejects and spam tags are spam):

      http://picpaste.com/spam.png [picpaste.com]

      in the previous years, i would see a big increase of spam since November until Christmas, this is the first time in years that i get less spam in Christmas than the rest of the year... i see now that i'm not the only one

      i have a usual level of spam of 60% during the year and its now on a spam ratio of 25% (but this week

  • Seasonal variation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by oobayly ( 1056050 ) on Thursday December 30, 2010 @10:47AM (#34710478)

    I've noticed that spam & dictionary attack are seasonal. Over Christmas I saw less than 20% of the usual attacks on our servers. I'm guessing this is due to peoples bot-ridden machines not being switched on as much.

    What really gets me is the amount of of dating spam that gets sent to an account I use for FreeBSD porting & CPAN. One would think spammers would avoid certain domains as they're only used by techies. Then again, maybe we're so desperate we'll jump at any chance of talking to a bird.

    • by Spad ( 470073 )

      The spammers don't care who their mail goes to. Email spam isn't a carefully targeted marketing strategy, it's a fire-and-forget statistical return strategy because it's so cheap to do that it's not worth the hassle to work our who's worth spamming and who isn't.

      It's the same with "personalised" phishing; automation technology has advanced to the point where it's no longer necessary to specifically target your attacks for the best returns, you just let your software target *everyone* for no additional cost

    • by Anonymous Coward

      What really gets me is the amount of of dating spam that gets sent to an account I use for FreeBSD porting & CPAN. One would think spammers would avoid certain domains as they're only used by techies. Then again, maybe we're so desperate we'll jump at any chance of talking to a bird.

      That's why I like using the "+" separator whenever I can. It allows easy filtering and I know exactly where it was received from.

      Unfortunately a lot of web form validation systems don't accept the format "person+foo@domain.com" as valid, and I have to end up removing the "+foo". When I was more active on Usenet I used a date-based format for my posting ("person+unetYYmmDD@domain.com") that I updated semi-regularly. I then created a ".forward+unetYYmmDD" that put things into /dev/null once the address was ha

    • No, it is due to the spammers going on holiday to some place where they got to pay for internet access. Spam always reduce on American holidays.
  • Poor detection (Score:5, Interesting)

    by OiBoy ( 22100 ) <caleb@@@webninja...com> on Thursday December 30, 2010 @10:49AM (#34710508) Homepage
    I've been getting significantly MORE spam in the last month. I would assume that they base their metrics on how much spam was caught and identified. Since apparently more is getting through to me now, the article should really be titled "Significant Decline of Spam DETECTION".
    • by jo7hs2 ( 884069 )

      I've been getting significantly MORE spam in the last month. I would assume that they base their metrics on how much spam was caught and identified. Since apparently more is getting through to me now, the article should really be titled "Significant Decline of Spam DETECTION".

      Me too. Almost all of it is "enhancement" related. Started about two months ago, steady rate, similar message. Every year or so this seems to happen. The last group to get through en masse were the random letter and misspelling ones. I'm somewhat surprised these are getting through, since they are not well disguised.

      • Why can't we just have a rule that any email that has more than 3 spelling errors gets nuked?

        • Some of us have friends that suck at spelling.
    • by higuita ( 129722 )

      i see spam detection dropping and i'm not seeing more spam entering the filters (other than the Christmas cards emails from all our partners and clients ;) )

      check http://it.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1929880&cid=34710824 [slashdot.org]

      so this isnt just a failing in detection, its really less spam entering

    • by thomst ( 1640045 )

      I've been getting significantly MORE spam in the last month.

      I've been getting almost NO spam the past few days. Maybe it's my mail host, maybe it's just vacation time for spammers, but still ...

    • by Speare ( 84249 )
      I've been getting a lot of MAILER DAEMON "rejection" notices... either I'm actually being joe-jobbed, or they're just sending messages to get past my current set of filters.
    • Thanks for the data point, but I hardly think your inbox is a valid sample size compared to the Commtouch data.

  • Spam is declining for a few reasons -- Anti-spam technology is getting better and more widely deployed. sure with massive volumes and good spammer technology plenty is still getting through -- but it's becoming more challenging for spammers to reach the inbox these days. Cybercriminals have switched to focusing on using malware and botnets as these much more profitable over time than the basic spamming. Why would you waste time trying to get someone to buy viagra from an online pharmacy when you could captu
  • I remember getting the occasional spam, and actually out of curiosity seeing how they would even complete their objective. Their objective? Sell you something that they are advertising. Many moons ago, I got one spam that had an 800 number. I called it and I couldn't even leave a message since the mailbox was full.

    Spam = advertising. Advertising leading to the sale of a product or service. I noticed about 99% of the time there was no logical or easy way to make a call/visit a site,etc to present me with a p

    • Some spammers I swear are just spamming for the sake of spamming. Where's the money in that?

      Spammers are essentially playing suckers against suckers. They make money by convincing the morons who are selling a crap product that people actually read/see spam these days, and that it's advantageous to spend money to advertise via spam. In other words, spamming itself is the business, not the sale of knock-off products.

    • by tepples ( 727027 )

      Spam = advertising. Advertising leading to the sale of a product or service. I noticed about 99% of the time there was no logical or easy way to make a call/visit a site,etc

      A commercial for Coca-Cola need not explain where one can buy Coca-Cola.

    • I don't have to wait 2+ minutes, except perhaps between posts, so long as I use the new interface... which seems to be forced on all users not disabling javascript now? Feh.

  • by pak9rabid ( 1011935 ) on Thursday December 30, 2010 @10:54AM (#34710564)
    What I've never understood is how come the governments haven't ever gone after the companies hiring these spammers to spam their shit all over the Internet? I mean, if we're so gung-ho about stopping spammers, you'd think the obvious place to start would be the companies that are hiring these scummy assholes to do their bidding for them (I'm sure the spammers aren't just advertising other companies' products out of the kindness of their hearts)...\/1@gr4, I'm looking at you.
    • Because most of that isn't real Viagra, it's Canadian/Indian knock-off Viagra.

      I love the IBM commercial where "10% of the worlds medication is counterfeit" and they go on about tracking and safety. What it is really about is profits. They don't want counterfeit meds hitting the shelves. While this sounds good, the "counterfeit" meds aren't as dangerous as they seem. Some countries are not respecting patents so India and Canada can produce their own. Since it is sold and labeled as "Viagra" but isn't produce

      • by gutnor ( 872759 )
        Even if they could produce the real stuff, that is far more profitable and less cumbersome to sell sugar pills - or nothing at all.
        That is a bit like fake rolex. Rolex-quality level fakes exist, stolen rolex exist, but the half homeless vendor with his blanket at the corner of the street is not the guy where you can get those from.
        • If you go to amazon, you should be able to get an automatic self winder Invicta with a japanese movement that looks like a Rolex Submariner for about $90. Would that count as a fake rolex?
    • That would take actual legwork, you know, doing what we pay them for, rather than sitting around eating donuts or watching pron at work. Someone would have to actually read the spam, pretend to be a customer, spend a little money, watch where it goes, and generally do basic cop work, which is a fair PITA.

      Too many people have been too affected by TV cop performance. In truth, there aren't any super-detectives that always find the guy, most cops are content to come and clean up after some major crime has ha

    • If you buy Viagra from a spam email, you'll likely get a placebo, or worse, something toxic... So it really isn't the mega companies hiring them, but the knock-off companies and their ilk, and they're operating outside the law as they always have. The internet has just expanded their audience.

  • I need to question the methods used to measure Spam, specifically what is being measured - while I can see the volume of spam emails dropping, the number of spam accounts attacking the forums I run is ever-increasing. Despite numerous tools (Blacklisting, CAPTCHAs, etc.), the sophistication and frequency of spam accounts and posts on forums seems to be increasing - to the point of humans joining communities and contributing in semi-relevant ways so that they aren't just auto-banned when they sign up.

    I don'

  • by rickb928 ( 945187 ) on Thursday December 30, 2010 @11:10AM (#34710726) Homepage Journal

    So instead of 332 spam messages a day, I'm only seeing 296 messages? Not really groundbreaking for me.

    Playing Whack-A-Spammer is a losing proposition. Someone will start up a service at least as big as Spamit, and we're just as buried. I'm not at all hopeful that spam can be contained at all.

    The only real solution is to go after the advertisers, the clients. I get occasional spam from what looks like mainstream advertisers, and if they get interested either in avoiding the bad press of spamming people OR they get interested in spammers using their trademarks without permission, maybe then we get some results.

    But there's plenty of advertisers that don't care.

    The ultimate solution is to make the spammers pay more than their clients will tolerate.

  • This article is rediculous:

    The large amounts of pre-Christmas spam are something of a tradition, but here too the outbreak was smaller than most of the large outbreaks this year.

    What about the Christmas outbreak last year? Was it different?

    I get the feeling the author is just spinning the numbers. Who knows, there could be no decline at all unless seasonal trends are fully accounted for.

  • the worst article ive ever read. source is not linked, the axes on the graph arent even fucking labeled, and the method by which the sampling was acquired was not disclosed. furthermore lets take this with a grain of salt; commtouch sells an anti spam product to large isps and service providers that costs upwards of a quarter-million dollars a year to license and run. If the metric is from their honeypots that might be OK, but if its from their appliances then i call foul.

    spam isnt just from one source
  • by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Thursday December 30, 2010 @11:50AM (#34711228) Journal

    Spam to my mail server has increased quite significantly the last three months. The most recent low was about the middle of this year (when my personal email address was "only" getting 600 spam emails per day on average), currently the average is closer to 1200 spam emails per day (About a year ago, it was around 1000 spam mails per day on average). Fortunately SpamAssassin catches pretty much everything.

    Some interesting things I've noted from the count of spam:

    * It drops markedly over weekends (sometimes by as much as two thirds). Either spammers take the weekends off, or the machines with the botnets installed are typically in businesses and are switched off over the weekend.
    * I noted a big drop in spam when that "false positive" story broke with one of the antivirus vendors (I don't remember which one it was) which rendered a large number of Windows machines unbootable - perhaps these machines were infected after all.
    * I see a dent in the spam numbers every time there's an announcement about some botnet being taken down. However, the numbers only drop off for perhaps a week or two, after that the spam is back with a vengeance, usually at an even higher rate than before.
    * The highest single day amount of spam to my personal email address this year was over 1900 spam messages.

    • I've noticed very much the opposite [ox.ac.uk] at work.

      As you can see, there's been a general trend downwards, in jumps, since July-Sept. 2009.

      The filters being used here are (1) IP addresses with valid DNS entries, (2) DNS blacklists, (3) ClamAV (with spam signatures added), followed by (4) SpamAssassin, which has been detuned so that it doesn't produce any false positives. Seeing as only a few spams actually get past ClamAV this is merely to catch those which don't have a signature yet.

      P.S.: Off topic: Right on co

  • Oddly, more spam than usual has been getting past Gmail's filters in the past couple weeks. At least for me. Less spam but smarter I guess.
    • by sl149q ( 1537343 )

      yes, I'm up to about 3-4 spams a week in my gmail accounts... not including what was caught by gmail of course (and that is for email addresses that have been around on the Internet for more than ten years.)

      I ran my own smtp servers for two decades ('87-'07) ... much simpler and cheaper and effective to let Google Gmail handle it all.

  • the company I work for was averaging 300k a day, bit down about 66% this week (there was a significant drop in August however). I attribute it to people getting new PCs and taking their old spambots off line...

  • Then why have I been seeing more lately?


  • You're only playing whac-a-mole when you go after individual spammers and spam gangs like this. Knock one out, and another will rise to take their place. Even if you disassemble a botnet, that will only be a momentary setback until they build a new one of a different set of compromised PCs.

    If you want to really stop spam, you need to deal with the underlying cause of spam. You need to reject the foolish notion that spam is sent to piss you off personally, and acknowledge that spam is sent to make money
    • if you can cut off the funding to the spammers (from the owners of the spamvertised domains) you will see spam finally whither and die

      If only it were so easy. First, finding the owner of a just-registered-with-a-stolen-card domain isn't exactly trivial and costs time and money. Secondly, a spamming business can always claim to be the victim of a "Joe Job" by their competition. Unless the actual money changing hands between spamvertiser and spammer is nailed down by law enforcement, there's really no way to prove spamming. Since law enforcement most likely can't get a warrant based soley on the contents of an unauthenticated SMTP message,

  • There's a product just out that will make your spam last longer, stop declining and stand proud, and be the envy of every ISP on your block.

    And she will thank you for it.

  • what this implies is that the selective targeting and assassination of a dozen or so of the top spammers would significantly reduce spam worldwide.

    and a continuing program of taking out the top 10 spammers every few months would keep it down.

    ...I still think a bounty on spammers is the ONLY solution that has any real chance of working. too bad it's technically illegal as spammers are nominally human.

The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first. -- Blaise Pascal