Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Spam 2.0

I'm probably one of the luckier ones. This morning I have only a little over 1100 emails in my spam filter from the last 30 days.

According to this morning's NYTimes, I may be getting off easy:

The average seven-day spam volume during the latter half of March is now at roughly the same levels as October of last year—around 94 percent of all e-mail—according to anti-spam company Postini, a division of Google.

The big drop in worldwide spam after one of the worst spam farms was closed down last November has all but gone away, as the worldwide volume of junk mail has increased by a little over one percent per day since, most of it too decentralized to stop by raiding a single service provider at a single location:

"What the spammers have been using to rebuild is more technically advanced than what got taken out and is itself a more resilient technology," [Adam Swidler, product marketing manager for Postini Services] said. "It’s unlikely we are going to see another event like McColo where taking out an I.S.P. has that kind of dramatic impact on global spam volumes."

Postini is also reporting Tuesday on a new kind of spam called location-based spam. When gullible users click on a link in a spam message, they are directed to a Web page that contains a fake news headline and a purported video describing a nearby crisis, using the user’s I.P. address to identify the nearest major city. When the now curious and gullible user clicks on the video, their computer is infected with a virus.

In the battle between Spam 2.0 and Gullible User 1.0, you know where to put your money.

In fact, we may be going at this business of saving the economy all wrong: Spammers--entrepreneurs, innovators, devotees of the unregulated free market--should be listed on the stock exchanges. Has any other sector of the economy been growing at 1.2% per day in the last six months?

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