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Where did all the Viagra spam go?

Russian crackdown has led to a dramatic drop, but expect it to be temporary.

By Karen Datko Nov 3, 2010 6:37PM

Enjoy the drop in Viagra spam traffic while you can. (Don't claim you didn't notice.) It's expected to be somewhat brief, as others move in to fill a void authorities say was created by an investigation of Igor A. Gusev, Russia's reputed "spam king."

Viagra and other prescription drug spam reportedly dropped by 20% worldwide -- 50 billion e-mails a day -- when the Russian computer police got involved.

 

Then again, you may not have noticed. Helen A.S. Popkin of MSNBC.com's Technolog blog wrote: "One-fifth of Internet spam is still a drop in the bucket however, considering that 200 (billion) spam e-mails circulate the Internet daily, accounting for 90% of all e-mail."

 

Gusev, 31, who's on the lam, says he's innocent. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Gusev, the alleged brains behind SpamIt.com, "has fled Russia but told the online site gzt.ru, 'I am not the biggest spammer because I do not do spam.'" SpamIt shut down in late September, six days after the investigation began, says The New York Times.

 

Whatever the source, we've all seen Viagra spam, which manages to penetrate filters designed to keep it from view. Viagra spam is so ubiquitous that it inspired a website called Viagra Spam Recipes, which uses canned Spam as the key ingredient. (There is no Viagra in these dishes.)

Authorities believe SpamIt paid commissions to spammers to direct traffic to online pharmacies supposedly selling Viagra and other popular prescription drugs. The Times explains:

The spammers, meanwhile, operated entirely in the shadows, using networks of computers that had been remotely infected with viruses, known as botnets, and turning them into relay stations for sending e-mail from anywhere in the world.

The drop in traffic could be short-lived because there are so many spammers in the world. In fact, the Spamhaus Project says the United States is No. 1 on its list of "the world's worst Spam Haven countries for production and export of spam." Russia is third, after China.

 

Meanwhile, spammers apparently have moved on to other projects. Infosecurity.com presented the assessment of Maria Namestnikova, senior spam analyst for Kaspersky Lab: "… the end of the month was marked by a growth in e-mails containing malicious code, which means the spammers have already switched from advertising pharmaceuticals to spreading malware," she said.

 

In another statement, the company said, "In fact, Kaspersky is expecting a new platform to rise and continue the former work of SpamIt."

 

How can regular citizens fight against Viagra spam? Stop clicking on those links. The stuff they're selling in probably counterfeit, so you're not being sneaky -- you're being ripped off. If Viagra is your path to happiness, get it the old-fashioned away: Go see the doctor and get a prescription.

 

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2Comments
Nov 4, 2010 12:33PM
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I've been getting Viagra (and other drugs) spam, but from an unlikely source.  They are from people I know.  The first time was from my late husband's hotmail account.  You think that didn't give me (and other family & friends) a start?!

 

Most recent is from an account one of my sisters has let sit idle for quite a few months.  It seems scammers can get into email accounts that haven't been used for some time & send spam to everyone in that person's address book.  I really had to jump through a lot of hoops to get my late DH's hotmail account totally deactivated.

Nov 3, 2010 7:45PM
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Viagra spam is old. The next best thing in line is Trojan Condom Spam. You get 50 Trojan Condoms For 1 dollar. Of course, they are used. Smile

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