Application security, Incident Response, Malware, TDR

Botnet disconnections have little impact on spam volume

Security researchers and government agencies have been diligently working to dismantle botnets, but their efforts have not caused a dramatic impact on spam levels, according to a report issued Wednesday by email security provider Google Postini.

The report offers spam and virus trends from the first quarter of 2010 based on data obtained during Google's processing of more than three billion email connections each day, according to a post on the search giant's Enterprise Blog. On the positive side, spam and virus levels during the first quarter of 2010 fell below highs seen during the previous quarter.

Overall, spam volume decreased 12 percent during from the last quarter of 2009 to first quarter of this year.

“We did see a double digit drop in spam volume, and it's not all that often that spam drops in a quarter, so that was interesting piece of data,” Adam Swidler, senior product marketing manager for Google's Postini group, told on Wednesday.

However, global spam levels have stayed relatively constant throughout the course of this quarter, despite the takedown of major botnets such as Waledac, Mariposa and Zeus.

This indicates that there is no shortage of other botnets available for spammers, Swidler said.

In addition, spam volume was six percent higher during the first quarter of this year than it was during the same period in 2009.

“It seems there are plentiful resources available to the spammers,” Swidler said.

If a botnet is taken offline, spammers can buy, rent, or deploy another, making it difficult for the security community to fight spam, Google Postini team member Gopal Shah wrote in the blog post.

“2010 is likely to see more botnets taken offline, but the question remains – will that have a long-term impact on spam volumes overall?” Shah said. “So far in 2010, the effect has been limited, and the security community may begin to turn to other tactics that yield a more substantial impact on global spam volumes.”

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