Spam Levels Cut By A Third With Rustock Botnet Takedown

Microsoft's move to take down the Rustock botnet caused the global level of spam to be reduced by 33 per cent, Symantec has revealed.

According to a report by Symantec's MessageLabs Intelligence, spam levels dropped by 33.6 percent between March 15th and March 17th, corresponding with the disabling of the Rustock botnet. The study investigating the impact of the mission, apparently by microsoft, showed daily spam volumes dropped from 52 billion to 33 billion.

A botnet comprises of a network of infected computers that are used to send out massive volumes of spam by remotely located command-and-control centres. The Rustock botnet was responsible for sending billions of spam emails per day.

MessageLabs Intelligence senior analyst Paul Wood said in a statement, “It remains to be seen whether the criminals behind Rustock will be able to recover from this coordinated effort against what has become one of the most technically sophisticated botnets in recent years.”

“Rustock has been a significant part of the botnet and malware landscape since January 2006 - much longer than many of its contemporaries,” he added.

For how long spam levels will continue to be relatively subdued is uncertain. Reports are coming in that another botnet, Bagle, has stepped in to take up Rustock's mantle.