Spam Levels Dropping (and politics / science fiction)

Good news for a change: there’s less spam! Better spam filters (backdoored or otherwise) and botnet disruptions have dropped global spam levels 8%, so spam now only accounts for 72% of all email sent… some observers also say (otherwise-legal) Internet advertisers are shifting to more legitimate ad platforms.

Politics and science fiction: the spectre of Anonymous wielding unspecified “warheads” in the name of Truth and Justice is a remarkable one, but reminded me of a few things:

a) an old interview ( in which a Wall Street man points out that “Capitalism is dying, boy. It’s dying of its own internal contradictions. Don’t get crushed when it topples down. If you can make a difference, do it, but there are huge forces at work here, and they have to play themselves out according to their own design, not yours. Watch yourself.”

I disagree that “capitalism” is dying, the man was most likely referring to “The Limits to Growth” ( and “The First Global Revolution” (NOTE redacted:

What will probably go the way of the dodo are the parts that aren’t sustainable (“NEED MOAR MONEH! GOTTA HAVE IT ALL! WORLD DOMINATION IS MINE!”). I doubt most people will miss them — as useful as they are at getting some people working towards good ends, power for the sake of power and money for the sake of money are ultimately stupid and useless.

b) What happens when anyone can effectively attack anyone else? Say, if you re-made the Matrix but gave everyone Neo’s abilities?

In the long term limit case, this is the subject of the first science fiction novel ever,* Bulwer-Lytton’s 1873 “The Power of the Coming Race” (

At 80 pages it’s a quick read, I think I finished it in under two hours. Highly recommended. I should note I don’t think it’s a utopian novel or (as written) an ideal goal by any stretch — note that Bulwer-Lytton’s underground world is entirely devoid of art. Also fun… I just can’t see any of his characters going skydiving.

* as far as I know

“Global spam levels continued to fall in 2012 and even the number of malicious attachments was on the wane, new figures from Kaspersky Lab have suggested.

The fall is relative of course; even with an eight-point drop, spam continued still accounted for a staggering 72 percent of all email during the year, equivalent to tens of trillions of messages moving uselessly and malevolently across the Internet every year.

The drop was consistent throughout the year, falling month-on-month, eventually dipping below the 70 percent threshold in the final three months of the year, Kaspersky said. […]

According to Kaspersky, the unprecedented fall can be explained by the gradual improvement in filtering.

Arguably, the disruption of botnets – the platform used to send most spam – has probably had a larger effect, with the downing of several large distribution networks coinciding with the start of spam’s decline in 2010.

Only this week, the virut botnet – a major sender of spam across Eastern Europe and the US – found itself on the ropes after the Polish national registrar disrupted its domains and command and control servers. This is only the latest in a line of botnet ‘takedowns’ in the last two years.

It could also be that there are better ways to make money from cybercrime, not least by infiltrating social media.

“This drop is the result of a gradual departure of advertisers from spam to other, more convenient and legal means of promoting goods and services,” said Kaspersky Lab’s Darya Gudkova.

“However, that doesn’t mean spam is headed the way of the dodo anytime soon. Malicious spam, fraud, and advertising of illegal goods cannot simply or easily migrate to legal platforms, due to their own inherently criminal nature. We expect that the decline in spam volumes in 2013 will be negligible at best,” he said.”

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