Bill Gates was right about spam going away, if only for a week

Spam filters, junk mail folders and honeypots across the globe got a much-needed respite this week after a Northern California-based web hosting firm - McColo - was taken offline by a pair of its upstream internet service providers.

Few people have ever heard of McColo, but apparently this small Silcon Valley tech company was providing connectivity to countless groups of shady cybercrooks. It's doubtful McColo was in on the scam, but when it was shut down, security pros saw an estimated two-thirds to 75 percent drop in the amount of spam circulating around the world.

Practically every major security company noticed the stunning decline and made mention of it in research posts and blogs. But practically everyone also agreed that this likely was only a flash-in-the-pan-type victory against the spread of unwanted (and often malicious) messages.

Some experts have predicted the amount of spam would soon begin creeping back upward, with numbers returning to normal levels by the holidays, just in time for the traditional influx of fake e-greeting cards and the like.

While bonet herders will quickly find a new host to which they can connect their command-and-control centers, this news shows that companies who provide access to these crooks, especially if they are based in America, won't be tolerated.

Many companies such as McColo and Atrivo/Intercage - which was rendered a similar fate earlier this year - will play dumb as to the types of operations they are supporting.

But the fact is, going after these enablers who are turning a blind eye to to the motives of their customers seems to be the most effective solution anyone has come up with yet to stop the spread of junk mail.

There is plenty of reason for cautious optimism, though. As long as there is money to be made, criminals will find a way. So maybe Bill Gates' prognostication will never come true.

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