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Spam-a-little
January 6, 2011 8:50 PM   Subscribe

Global spam email levels suddenly fall. The volume of email spam has been dropping for 5 months, but during the holidays fell below 25% of August 2010 levels.

Causes include the partial or complete shutdown of major bot-nets such as SpamIt (aka Glavmed) and Bredolab by authorities. Other prominent bot-nets Rustock, Lethic, and Xarvester have also gone quiet, for reasons unknown.
posted by Existential Dread (53 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
I love how the 'gone quiet' link reads like something from A Fire Upon The Deep
posted by Confess, Fletch at 8:53 PM on January 6, 2011 [13 favorites]


So they've dropped to "the lowest percentage since September 2009"? That's like saying that housing prices in Boston have dropped to the lowest percentage since 2009. Nice, but it still doesn't solve the problem.
posted by Melismata at 8:55 PM on January 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Peak Spam, huh?
posted by boo_radley at 8:56 PM on January 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I need a recipe for Peak Spam, stat.
posted by carsonb at 9:01 PM on January 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


First the blackbirds, then it was the crabs, now it's the Nigerians.
What ho 2012?
What ho?
posted by Senor Cardgage at 9:04 PM on January 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hello, my name is Mr.Ndam Robiros. I work in the botnet department of First Bank of NigeriaLLC,Lagos, Nigeria. I write you in respect of a botnet, very good deal used only on Sundays and national holidays, to be shared between you me and six individuals to be named, for which I need only your full legal name and address,telephone/fax number and bank information...
posted by vorfeed at 9:05 PM on January 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


What is the opposite of eponisterical? Whatever it may be, this is it.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:07 PM on January 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


I guess my penis is finally big enough.
posted by jet_silver at 9:13 PM on January 6, 2011 [69 favorites]


Bad economy and budget cuts. Spambots left out of work by the millions, email systems left empty, deserted. Gee, thanks Obama!
posted by yeloson at 9:16 PM on January 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Tell that to my Gmail account.
posted by bwg at 9:21 PM on January 6, 2011


It's quiet.

















Too quiet.
posted by middleclasstool at 9:24 PM on January 6, 2011 [16 favorites]


Still say - if i did'nt get spam, i would not get any email. what? now i almost lost my only email friend spam?
posted by tustinrick at 9:28 PM on January 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Dammit! I needed more WATCHES!!
posted by two lights above the sea at 9:29 PM on January 6, 2011


Maybe someone can explain to me how these fellows profit off of spam. I assume that some percentage of people not only read the darn message but are desperate enough to want a larger penis or some codeine. So they order something. Are they sent a product or is is just a one time money grab? In the case of pharmaceutical drugs, do they get a pill that looks (or even acts) like the real thing? If it is a one time money grab, why can't they be traced and caught?
posted by AugustWest at 9:29 PM on January 6, 2011


I love replying to some of the wire transfer spammers to one of my junk Hotmail accounts. I usually say something in all caps like "I CAN'T WAIT TO DO BUSINESS WITH YOU BUT I AM DYING PLEASE LET ME KNOW IF I CAN BUY ONE OF YOUR KIDNEYS".

You'd be surprised how many of them try to draw this out to coax me to send them a few hundred bucks for a finder's fee.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:33 PM on January 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


There's a theory that the only people profiting off the spam are the spammers— the people selling fake watches or penis pills are being scammed almost as much as we are. Dunno if that's true, or if it ever was, but it is a reminder that there's more than one possibly dishonest transaction going on there.

(Also a lot of my spam is phishing or virus mail.)
posted by hattifattener at 9:35 PM on January 6, 2011


Maybe someone can explain to me how these fellows profit off of spam.


Does it matter? In the post cyber-punk future what matter is eyeballs. It's the attention economy man, you eat the mind-space noopsphere bean curd, leaked on wikileaks. Gangs on twitter and twitter gangs.

But seriously, there are underground websites run by Russian organized crime where you can rent time on botnets as easily as you can on Amazon's elastic compute cloud. You pay the bid on spam to send and then pay the owners of the botnet to send it. Presumably, you wouldn't be spamming if you didn't have a way to make money off it.

But what's fascinating to me is that the actual explanation is no less bizarre then the sarcastic one.
posted by delmoi at 9:38 PM on January 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


I know spam is suddenly supposed to have gotten quiet but in November and December, my address was spoofed on about a dozen spam mailouts. It worked out that my gmail spam box ballooned to about five times its usual size with rejected spam and bounces over the period when spam for everyone else was declining.
posted by immlass at 9:44 PM on January 6, 2011


Great comment, Fletch! Indeed, there's an anti-spam company out there called Cloudmark, which indeed took its name from A Fire Upon the Deep.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 9:45 PM on January 6, 2011


You fools! Don't you understand? The spam is the only thing keeping us safe... from the INFOVORES!

(wraps tinfoil around head)
posted by Artw at 10:05 PM on January 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


So was the real purpose of spam to provide cover for some kinds of espionage information exchange, and now they're stopping because unreleased Wikileaks documents that the spymmers have somehow gotten access to have revealed that their cover was blown a long time ago?
posted by jamjam at 10:12 PM on January 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


(wraps tinfoil around head)

I don't know why this isn't more widely known, but tinfoil hats don't help. They actually do the opposite.
posted by hippybear at 10:28 PM on January 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


This is really puzzling. I can't believe spammers are organized enough that they are using the time to prepare some new spam assault. If a lot of spam comes via botnets, could the drop be due to some Windows security update?
posted by LarryC at 10:46 PM on January 6, 2011


Haven't emptied my spam folder in days, and it only contains 25 pieces of junk mail. And now that I look inside, I see that half of those are my own bounced rejections from a script I was testing. I can't remember when my trash has seen so few spams. Seriously, must be over 10 years at least.
posted by fartknocker at 10:57 PM on January 6, 2011


could the drop be due to some Windows security update?

Doubtful, since the people who actually run Windows security updates as they come out tend not to be the sort of people running bots on their computer.
posted by fatbird at 11:00 PM on January 6, 2011


Actually, I see a huge increase in non-email spam. I get an order of magnitude more blog spam attempts on my blog, there's more twitter follow spam, etc.

My guess is that the spammers are moving from email to different forms of communications with potential marks.
posted by DreamerFi at 12:50 AM on January 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Something in me thinks this correlates to the demise of IE6.
posted by brenton at 1:02 AM on January 7, 2011


First birds, then fish, now this?!
posted by TwelveTwo at 1:09 AM on January 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


They came first for the Spammers,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Spammer.

wake up, sheeple!
posted by chavenet at 1:37 AM on January 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm actually getting more spam now. It's still not much, but definitely an increase over the last several years. Could the spammers somehow be shifting their attention to addresses previously left untapped?
posted by Kevin Street at 1:37 AM on January 7, 2011


Aaagh. I have a new novel coming out this July, all about the war on spam in 2022.

The bastards are trying to obsolete my plot! Again!
posted by cstross at 2:18 AM on January 7, 2011 [15 favorites]


cstross The bastards are trying to obsolete my plot! Again!
Cool superpower. Shall we make a list for you? :D
posted by aeschenkarnos at 2:26 AM on January 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


How are they counting the spam? It can't be as it passes through servers, because then there would be a way to block it. Alternatively, if they can't block it in the servers, how do they know they've counted it all? I.e. maybe the drop is because the spammers have a new technique.

Contrariwise, maybe they are counting it in the client (via human classification, say). But then perhaps the drop is because the spammers have gotten wise to the honeypot addresses and just aren't sending as much spam to the counters.
posted by DU at 4:59 AM on January 7, 2011


One theory I've heard is that spam has dropped off because the Bank Of America have booked out all the botnets to keep WikiLeaks DDOSed.
posted by acb at 5:03 AM on January 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


Lots of people got clean new computers for Christmas?
posted by Segundus at 5:10 AM on January 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


This all thanks to a sophisticated global anti-spam technology I developed with the vast quantity of cash I made looking after a nice Nigerian gentleman's money a while back. Donations to keep this operation running and effective are welcome.
posted by Decani at 5:17 AM on January 7, 2011


I don't really see any email spam since I use gmail; but that Fire on the Deep book sounds pretty cool.
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 5:38 AM on January 7, 2011


I left Yahoo because of all the spam. Not one spammer has shown up on my Gmail account in years.

I suppose I was more careless with my surfing during the first few years of playing with my shiny new Internet. More of us have programs on our PC's these days to keep cyber-bedbugs out of our houses these days.
posted by kozad at 7:40 AM on January 7, 2011


ALL SPAMMERS WILL DIE
posted by adamdschneider at 7:46 AM on January 7, 2011


So will everyone reading this.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:04 AM on January 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is there a website somewhere that publishes regular statistics on botnets? I just spent an amusing 10 minutes reading about Rustock, Srizbi, and friends. I'd like a site that shows graphs of the size of these networks over the months. A quick Google turned up a few disappointing sites, nothing good. Anyone know?
posted by Nelson at 8:47 AM on January 7, 2011


i almost lost my only email friend spam?

Have you met my friend cron? With his company you are never lonely.
posted by poe at 9:01 AM on January 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


LarryC: If a lot of spam comes via botnets, could the drop be due to some Windows security update?
Here is some optimistic and groundless pure speculation: It could be that the oldest, cruftiest, most infected Windows XP machines are steadily being replaced with Windows 7 machines, and that the botnet software doesn't work so well on Windows 7. (Yet. Or maybe never; it is intended to be more secure.) Windows 7 adoption has been on a tear since summer, which corresponds suggestively with the recent downward trend in spam. And one might expect to see a surge in Windows 7 use (and a corresponding fall in bot-net activity) in December, when new computers fly off the shelves as gifts or at Black Friday type sales.
posted by Western Infidels at 9:08 AM on January 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


but that Fire on the Deep book sounds pretty cool.

It is a classic and well worth reading.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:53 AM on January 7, 2011


That would be lovely, Western Infidels, but there's a decades worth of XP machines out there now, so it seems unlikely that much progress would have been made.

(It would also mean the death of IE6, the grave of which i will dance on when it goes)
posted by Artw at 11:07 AM on January 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


(It would also mean the death of IE6, the grave of which i will dance on when it goes)

QFT
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 11:12 AM on January 7, 2011


It is a classic and well worth reading.

A Deepness in the Sky is also pretty cool. Rainbow's End, on the other hand, sucked.
posted by adamdschneider at 11:59 AM on January 7, 2011


I haven't read Rainbow's End yet, but pretty much anything by Vernor Vinge is worth reading and obsessing over until the binding falls off from overuse. (Assuming it's a paperback.) He has a lot of excellent short fiction, too.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:06 PM on January 7, 2011


Fast Times at Fairmont High, which is novella with sort-of the same characters and universe (there seems to be a few differences) is lovely, so it's a shame Rainbows End does, indeed, kind of suck.
posted by Artw at 1:10 PM on January 7, 2011


Is this since October?
posted by robertc at 3:44 PM on January 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


filthy light thief, from now on I will only do posts that imply some sort of impending doom. My next post: BEDBUG APOCALYPSE APPROACHES
posted by Existential Dread at 7:16 PM on January 7, 2011


Somehow I find that my email spam has been going up all along. Well, maybe it's true when they tell me I'm special :-)
posted by sandrach at 6:54 AM on January 8, 2011


tinfoil hats don't help

That what they want you to think.
posted by dgran at 2:25 PM on January 10, 2011


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