Spam bucking recession and increasing carbon footprint

One aspect of enterprise IT that clearly isn't in decline as a result of the recession is spam. Researchers at Marshal8e6 deliberately infected machines in its TRACElabs facility with malware responsible for the nine largest spam botnets tracked to date and found infected PCs can generate up to 600,000 spam messages per day. Rustock and Xarvester are the most efficient of the nine bots analysed and each is capable of sending up to 25,000 messages per hour, or 4.2 million per week.

Such volumes certainly go a long way towards making sense of a recent Microsoft security report which claims that more than 97% of all emails sent over the net are unwanted and that 8.6 of every 1,000 machines are infected. Microsoft may have over-egged the pudding, according to email security firm Message Labs which reckons that only 81% of email traffic it processes is unwanted. Still, that seems pretty steep to me.

Meanwhile security vendor McAfee is blowing the environmental whistle on spam. The company has issued a report stating that spam emails use an estimated 33 terawatt hours of power each year. McAfee estimates that 62 trillion spam emails were sent last year and that the energy used to send and delete them could power 2.4 million American homes instead. Each spam email is claimed to generate 0.3g of carbon. In addition, McAfee says that, although spam filter can cut the carbon footprint of spam by 75%, it is more effective to shut down spam at its source.

Anthony Plewes

After a Masters in Computer Science, I decided that I preferred writing about IT rather than programming. My 20-year writing career has taken me to Hong Kong and London where I've edited and written for IT, business and electronics publications. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Stewart Baines where I continue to write about a range of topics such as unified communications, cloud computing and enterprise applications.