Google Says Spam Level at 94%, Back to McColo Highs
Article by George Norman
On 01 Apr 2009
Following the takedown of Silicon Valley-based web hosting provider McColo back in November, the online traffic of spam messages saw a significant decrease – an 80% decrease at the time, which is impressive. The move against spammers was such a big hit that McAfee even predicted the success of this action would further boost law enforcement agencies collaboration in the fight against spam. According to Google, in the four months that have passed since the McColo takedown spammers have been regrouping and spam traffic is now back to normal – as in back to making up 94% of all traffic.

“In providing email security to more than 50,000 businesses and 15 million business users, Google security and archiving services, powered by Postini, process and cull spam from more than three billion enterprise email connections every day. This gives us strong insights into the state of the spam industry. The most significant spam-related event in the first quarter of 2009 occurred when spam volume returned to pre-McColo takedown levels. By the second half of March, seven-day average spam volume was at the same volume we saw prior to the blocking of the McColo ISP in November 2008,” explains Google security and archiving team member, Amanda Kleha.


About 94% of all email traffic monitored by Postini in 2009 represents spam. Over the first quarter of 2009 the average number of spam messages has increased by 1.2% each day; compared to spam traffic recorded over the same period in 2008, the increase is not that big (1.2% in 2009, 1% in 2008). Not a big difference when you compare the two percentages one against the other, but keep in mind that the 1% increase from Q1 of 2008 was a record high.

“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,” says Amanda Kleha. “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.”

Tags: Google, Postini, Spam
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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Google Says Spam Level at 94%, Back to McColo Highs
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