Spam levels rise again

Last year’s dramatic fall in the levels of emails advertising Viagra products and herbal medicines has levelled out and is showing the first signs of making a comeback.

Insecurity outfit Symantec said that pharmaceutical promotions usually account for around 64 percent of all email spam globally which is about 60 billion messages a day. However this fell to 0.1 percent over the Christmas period, accounting for only 70 million emails.

The volume of total email spam dropped to its lowest point in two years last month, from 200 billion a day in August to around 30 billion daily at the end of December.

Now Symantec is warning that figure rebounded sharply to 70 billion emails as botnets start to crank up again.

The botnet known as Rustock, which was switched off on Christmas day, and pharmaceutical spam fell. Butovernight Rustock activity soared, prompting security experts to predict that spam levels in the next 24 hours could increase exponentially. Rustock accounted for 30 percent and is rising all the time.

According to the Guardian  Rustock is connected to the recently closed site Spamit.com, which was credited with dishing up a large amount of global spam last year.

If you get Viagra advertising in your email there is a very good chance that it is Rustock that sent it to you. Apparently they could measure the success of their campaigns via Spamit and then get paid on the basis of its performance.

It is still a mystery why the spammers took Christmas off. Perhaps they needed a break, or maybe they were just feeling all Christmasy and did not want to bother anyone that day.