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Spam is... down?
After a sudden spike in spam a few months ago, at least one source is now reporting an almost as mysterious 30% drop.
The article cited above suggests a company called Softscan suspects the root cause is a botnet gone haywire. For some reason the "slave" systems are no longer taking commands from the "masters." Softscan produces mail filter products that tangentially compete with SpamButcher.
Botnets are strange creatures in the world of software. The idea is a piece of malicious code "infects" as many systems as possible. Spammers, hackers and other bad-folk then use the collective to do their bidding.
My own personal nightmare is that a botnet becomes advanced enough to make its decisions. Imagine humanity suffering a slow agonizing death-by-junk-email.
The article also sites new (uninfected) computers purchased for Christmas and a recent earthquake in Asia as possible contributing factors.
I'm a bit skeptical. The new-computer and earthquake explanations just don't make much sense to me. It also would hit me as surprising if a single botnet were to both be responsible for such a large portion of junk messages and spontaneously fail.
Spam levels in SpamButcher monitoring accounts seem to have been relatively flat. However, other monitoring efforts may certainly be more comprehensive than ours are.