Score one for the good guys in the global fight against spam.

According to CNN, 50% of worldwide spam is now gone thanks to a takedown of the Grum spam botnet.

Grum was estimated to dispatch more than 18 billion spam emails per day through it’s bot network. A botnet is a network of computers affected with a malware virus that are used by attackers to dispatch high volumes of spam or to launch denial-of-service attacks aimed at taking down websites.

Grum botnet servers in Panama and the Netherlands were taken down on Tuesday. That left operators of the spam network with only a server in Russia supporting their enterprise. But security experts were one step ahead. U.K.-based SpamHaus worked with the California security firm FireEye to get Russian ISPs to shut down Grum’s servers.

Atif Mushtaq, a computer security specialist at FireEye, told the New York Times, “They’d have to start an entirely new campaign and infect hundreds of thousands of new machines to get something like Grum started again. They’d have to build from scratch. Because of how the malware was written for Grum, when the master server is dead, the infected machines can no longer send spam or communicate with a new server.”

The Grum botnet first came online in 2008. Hundreds of thousands of machines were infected with its malware worldwide and were used to dispatch spam advertising pharmaceuticals and cheap drugs online. For all the destruction Grum caused, it had a fatal flaw: an inability to recover if all its command servers were simultaneously knocked offline.

Various estimates have been released ranging from 15%-50% for exactly how much of the world’s spam the Grum botnet was responsible for.

Affiliate Angle

Spam is a big issue for iGaming affiliates. Some email service providers don’t even accept gambling content due to the pervasive nature of gambling-related spam emails.

Legitimate affiliates have had a reason to fight spam in every way they could. Spam undermines the whole industry and has given affiliates headaches when it comes to maximizing email delivery.

When a major spam botnet like Grum is taken down, it represents a victory for legitimate Internet marketers everywhere who use double opt-in lists before dispatching email campaigns. If spam can be battled successfully, ESPs will eventually have no reason to ban gambling content.

The scales have been tipped in the fight against spam since Microsoft got involved in 2010 and began working with the FBI to neutralize large spam networks. They helped to cripple the operations of Waledac, Kelihos and Rustock. Prior to its demise in March 2011, Rustock was responsible for more than 47% of the world’s total output of spam.

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