Spam volumes drop as Rustock, other botnets go quiet

The infamous Rustock botnet, responsible for almost half of all spam sent last year through its command-and-control system exploiting over a million compromised PCs, has suddenly slowed to a crawl, Symantec said today, noting the unexplained event has led to a substantial drop in spam.

Also read: Rustock responsible for over 40% of spam

One of the oldest and most successful spam-producing botnets, Rustock typically would send about 44.1 billion spams per day but that volume suddenly dropped on Dec. 25 to about 500 million per day, according to Symantec. There's no clear explanation for the decrease, which may be temporary, says Paul Wood, senior analyst with Symantec hosted services. But he notes that the Web site for the Rustock spam-promoting affiliate organization called SPAMIT, was shut down last October. To add to the mystery, other spam-producing botnets are suddenly going silent, including one called Lethic on Dec. 28 and Xarvester on Dec. 31.

"We've got blackbirds falling out of the sky and botnets going silent for the moment," says Wood, alluding to the mysterious spectacle of birds mysteriously raining down dead by the thousands in Arkansas on New Year's Eve.

Rustock in years past has shown irregular patterns of sending spam by going into prolonged quiet periods before a major ramp-up. The Rustock botnet still appears to retain the ability to initiate other actions, including click fraud, Wood adds, noting it's not known who controls Rustock. Some believe it has roots in Russia.

Since Rustock accounts for about half of the world's spam each day (most of it the so-called "pharmaceutical spam" trying to lure people to Web sites via promotions of illicitly-sold medications or simply malware) it has resulted in a dramatic decrease in spam volumes for the current period.

"Did the people in charge of these botnets suddenly go on vacation?" asks Symantec researcher Eric Park in a blog post. "Currently there are no explanations on why these botnets stopped spamming."

Read more about wide area network in Network World's Wide Area Network section.

Tags symantecantispamsecurityspam; Rustock; Symantec; Xarvesteranti-malware

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ellen Messmer

Network World

Comments

Comments are now closed.

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Shopping.com

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?