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Spam on the decline

Spam in e-mail form. (mray via flickr / Creative Commons)

If you were checking your e-mail over the holidays, you may have noticed something was missing.


The mass marketing messages were on the decline across the world last month. That's according to data from computer security firm, Symantec.

Typically, spam comes from "botnets", collections of computer programs automatically send out junk e-mail 24 hours a day. Some of the baddest botnets, with menacing Transformer-esque names like Rustock, Lethic and Xarvester, have been strangely quiet lately.

But don't start celebrating yet.

"Even if these three botnets don't come back," Symantec's Mathew Nisbet says, "we would expect other botnets, even new ones, to pick up where they have left off - very soon."

Some tech-experts, like Carl Leonard of the web secutiry firm Websense, say that spam hasn't declined, it's just moved.  It's migrated from our in boxes to our Twitter and Facebook accounts.  Spammers are hoping to take advantage of our inherent trust of friends and contacts on social networks to get us to click on their links. "Social-spam" may be more effective in the short term.

In other words, we may be opening up a whole new can of ... spam.