How spammers are like a force of nature

As fast as officials shut off one source of spam, the bad guys fill the void

A number of private companies, in addition to the Federal Trade Commission, have successfully pursued legal actions against spam networks. So things should be getting better, right? Not necessarily.

The numbers fluctuate a little depending on who is doing the reporting, but the percentage of spam in our daily e-mail message traffic still is anywhere from 85 percent to the upper 90s.

Spammers, like nature, apparently abhor a vacuum, and as soon as one network of spambots is shut down, the volume produced by surviving networks expands to fill the void. And the spammers apparently are working overtime to make up for recent losses in courts.

Related stories:

Score one for the good guys in the battle against spam

Spam’s supply and demand

Symantec’s most recent State of Spam and Phishing Report for June reported that levels of spam containing malicious code spiked last month as the bad guys apparently scrambled to recruit new zombies into their networks.

“So far in 2010, Symantec had not observed malware levels above 3 percent of all spam, even on days when malware spam spiked,” Symantec abuse desk analyst Eric Park said. “However, malware spam made up almost 12 percent of all spam on June 13 and topped 5 percent on June 3 and 15.”

Researchers also found that the recent World Cup soccer tournament provided a target-rich environment for spammers. “The volume of messages with World Cup keywords in the subject line is more than nine times higher now than compared to that of 2006,” the report states.

So remain vigilant.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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