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updated 6/30/2011 4:48:46 PM ET 2011-06-30T20:48:46

In the past year, the amount of spam appearing in inboxes worldwide has fallen by nearly 83 percent.

Analysis by Martin Lee from the security firm Symantec shows that spam accounts now for 39.2 billion messages per day.

The statistic sounds shocking, but it's a significant drop-off from July 2010, when researchers detected 230 billion spam messages in daily circulation, which at that point accounted for 90 percent of all email traffic.

What's behind the decline?

There are several factors contributing to this massive decline in spam.

Last October, the FBI took down Spamit, a notorious global spam operation based in Russia. In mid-December the infamous Rustock botnet, capable of sending 1,000 to 2,000 spam emails per second, took a Christmas vacation, then came back in a weakened form before authorities finally shut it down in March.

[Huge Rustock Spam Network Suddenly Goes Offline]

In April, the FBI and Department of Justice brought down the Coreflood botnet, an international network of more than two million infected computers.

Symantec suggested that the deceased output of spam could be a direct result of the increased efforts of law enforcement agents, and by legal action such as the U.S. 2003 CAN-SPAM act.

No money, no spam

Another reason spam may have trailed off is that it is no longer the cash cow it once was for cybercriminals.

In an article by Robert McMillan of InfoWorld, convicted 1990s spam kingpin Robert Soloway said spamming these days is "not something financially feasible for anyone to even consider."

Soloway blames the business slump on more effective spam filters. He said in 1997 he made $20,000 per day, but 10 years later, forced to evade anti-spam programs, he was able to net only $20 per day.

As more and more people become dependent on computers, hopefully they'll also become savvier and better able to recognize — and avoid falling for — spammers' enticing offers.

© 2012 SecurityNewsDaily. All rights reserved

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