Seas of Spam Keep Rising, Despite Efforts to Hold Back the Flood

computer network
computer network

The amount of junk email targeting your inbox is growing, keeping pace with the swelling tide of all messages, good and bad, sent your way. Overall spam volumes grew 6% in the first quarter of 2010, compared to the same period in 2009, according to analysis by Google's (GOOG) email security and archiving unit, Postini.

Looking at consecutive quarters yields a brighter picture, with total spam volumes falling by 12% between the fourth quarter of 2009 and the first quarter of 2010.

Rebounding Spammers

Postini's Gopal Shah shared the statistics on the company's enterprise blog. Google, through Postini, touches more than 3 billion email connections per day, putting it in a great spot to monitor global spam volumes.

Spammers are resilient, too. Several big, high-profile networks of hijacked PCs, pressed into service as spam dispensaries, known as botnets, were crippled or shutdown by security experts in early 2010. But global spam levels held relatively steady over the course of 2010's first quarter.

Other spam enablers, such as rogue Internet service providers, have also been targeted by antispam crusaders, but to little effect. Despite the successful closures of spam promulgators such as Triple Fiber Network (dubbed "the worst domestic ISP in terms of hosting criminal activity" by one security researcher) and Real Host, spam levels have rebounded quickly every time, says Shah.

Cheap Drugs, Gossip, and Money Scams

Google's survey of the daily digital barrage shows junk emails tend to be solicitations for cheap drugs, hot celebrity gossip and breaking news. A similar assessment by private competitor Barracuda Networks adds solicitations for replica products, illegal ads and money scams to the list.

On Thursday, Barracuda had reported blocking 1.4 billion spam message so far, approaching the 1.8 billion it blocked Wednesday. At the gates of your inbox, the battle continues.