Have you been getting less spam lately?

— 3:16 PM on November 18, 2008

If the amount of spam in your inbox has gone down these past few days, it's not because your spam filter suddenly decided to work overtime. Rather, as the Washington Post reports, one of the biggest web hosts for botnet operators and other shady (or downright illegal) services has gone offline.

Two Internet service providers cut off McColo's connectivity last week after seeing incriminating evidence. The Marketing Director for one of the ISPs recalls, "We looked into it a bit, saw the size and scope of the problem [washingtonpost.com was] reporting and said 'Holy cow!' Within the hour we had terminated all of our connections to them." Soon afterward, security firm IronPort recorded a 66% drop in spam levels, and Spamcop.net saw the volume of junk e-mails per second shrink from 40 to 10.

Based in San Jose, California, McColo allegedly hosted master servers for five known botnets: Mega-D, Srizbi, Pushdo, Rustock and Warezov. The first of the bunch can send 10 billion e-mails a day, and British botnet tracker Marshal claims the five put together account for "roughly 75 percent of all spam each day." McColo's other customers included purveyors of fake pharmaceuticals, counterfeit designer products, fake security software, and illicit pornography. Yikes. (Thanks to TR regular UberGerbil for the tip.)

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