Spammers Show Resilience
Spammers are stepping up their efforts as the “industry” recovers from the loss of McColo, a web hosting company whose clients generated some 75% of the spam e-mail we get to enjoy on a daily basis. It seems that these folks are back up to their old levels again according to a report from Postini, which provides the security for the approximately 15 million users of Google’s enterprise e-mail offering.
The rate of growth for spam is higher than ever
Overall spam growth is the highest it’s ever been, increasing 1.2 percent a day in the first quarter of 2009 (compared with 1 percent a day in the first quarter of 2008, which was a record at the time).
Clickz tells us that immediately following the shut down of McColo the average number of spam e-mails went from 100 per day for the average Google Enterprise user to around 25. Those numbers are already back up in the low 60’s. All of this goes to show that like with most negative aspects of the Internet most ‘fixes’ are at best temporary. Maybe the folks on the dark side just try harder?
“It’s difficult to ascertain exactly how spammers have rebuilt in the wake of McColo, but data suggests they’re adopting new strategies to avoid a McColo-type takedown from occurring again,” commented Amanda Kleha, of the Google security and archiving team, in the report. “Specifically, the recent upward trajectory of spam could indicate that spammers are building botnets that are more robust but send less volume — or at least that they haven’t enabled their botnets to run at full capacity because they’re wary of exposing a new ISP as a target.”
In the wake of the Conficker concerns the other side of this issue is the concern that the number of spam e-mails containing viruses is also on the rise. The numbers between February and March of this year showed an increase of nine times the e-mails with viruses.
It may be that spammers have just reworked their thinking to avoid getting shut down to the degree they did around the McColo incident. The techniques being used now include spam based on location. By saying that there is some news event of local importance people are opening these e-mails then clicking on videos that set the virus. Basically, whatever plays on the emotions of an inexperienced Internet user (or less discerning one) is what works for now. These attacks are now being spread evenly across the week as well when before Sunday used to be the busy day for spammers.
As hyperactive users of the Internet this may sound silly to us but once again as with other areas we need to remember that it’s a big internet and our behavior is , for the most part, abnormal as compared to the vast majority of Internet users.