Christmas morning brought an unexpected present to the University of Illinois email servers — spam email messages and junk mail virtually disappeared. Mark Nye, senior research programmer at CITES, noted that incoming daily mail connections (emails sent to campus) have dropped from an average of over 8 million emails a day to around 2 million a day.
CITES Spam Control, a service which blocks junk emails, will normally block around 6 to 7 million spam messages per day. Since December 25, the Spam Control quarantine has dipped below 900,000 junk messages per day.
“[900,000] is lower than we’ve seen since... Well, no one can remember,” said Nye.
The decrease in spam sent to the University of Illinois email service is part of a global trend. Since Christmas morning, spam messages sent around the world have dropped off considerably and not yet shot back up to their usual levels. Unfortunately, security researchers are unable to determine if this drop is merely a holiday for spammers or a sign that their focus may be moving away from email spam altogether.
For more information about the global drop in spam messages, please see: Symantec Hosted Services reveals huge drop in spam.
UPDATE: It seems as though the spammers may have just been on vacation for the holidays. On Monday, January 10, 2011, incoming spam emails returned to their normal levels, ending a 17-day period where spam messages sent to the University of Illinois email servers dropped to dramatically low numbers.