After rising steadily for many years spam levels have mysteriously dropped 30% in the first week of January. According to SoftScan the most plausible explanation is that a botnet has broken down and lost control of it's zombie computers.

Other possible explanations have been put forward including a large number of infected machines getting replaced by new computers received for Christmas or spammers being isolated by the Asian earthquake. Both explanations are considered unlikely.

Spam accounted for almost 9 of 10 emails in December. Diego d'Ambra, SoftScan's chief technology officer, said that governments will probably be forced to take a tougher stance on spam due to the sheer volume of the problem.