Cisco: Spammers aren't making money like they used to

Mass attacks including spam will generate $300 million this year, Cisco estimates, down from $1 billion in 2010

Worms, denial-of-service attacks and spam just aren't paying out like they used to. That's what Cisco Systems found when it took a close look at the illegal marketplace for scammers and spammers.

Cisco studied the underground cybercrime marketplace and security researcher Pat Peterson believes that last year was a turning point in the war against mass scams. "The tide turned tremendously at the end of 2010," he said, speaking at a press event for reporters and analysts at Cisco's San Bruno, California, campus Thursday. "We continue to expect criminal profits from these mass attacks to drop."

Cisco estimates that mass attackers will rake in about US$300 million in profits this year. That's a big drop from the $1 billion or so that Cisco thinks the criminals made each year in 2009 and 2010.

So why are things getting so rough for the scammers? Peterson gives two reasons: Law enforcement has stepped up efforts against scammers, and "a lot of the botnets have been shut down, taken down, disrupted and hassled," he said.

In the past year alone, international takedown efforts have neutralized or removed some of the world's worst botnets: Conficker, Waledac, Pushdo and, most recently, Rustock have all been hit.

Spam volumes have plummeted accordingly: from about 300 billion messages per day a year ago to closer to 40 billion per day over the past few months. Some are saying that it's just becoming too hard to make money as a spammer these days.

"This is something that we don't see very often, which is a true phenomenal success," Peterson said.

That doesn't mean that online crooks are going away though. Peterson believes that targeted attacks such as spearphishing are on the rise.

The total number of targeted attacks has tripled over the past year and they are now costing organizations about $1.3 billion each year, according to Cisco.

Robert McMillan covers computer security and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Robert on Twitter at @bobmcmillan. Robert's e-mail address is robert_mcmillan@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags antispamCisco Systems

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Robert McMillan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?