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Spammers back from a holiday break

Spam volumes dropped in the last week of December and the first week of January, but the relief is short lived, alas, according to experts.

Just how much less junk mail was sent in those two weeks depends on whom you ask. Postini, a San Carlos, Calif.-based spam filtering service, says 15 percent less spam was sent. IronPort, a San Bruno, Calif., maker of e-mail security appliances, saw a 25 percent decline. (IronPort is being acquired by Cisco Systems.)

But both companies agree that spammers are back in force. (So don't cancel your Postini contract and keep that IronPort box.)

"We have seen a small dip...but on Monday of this week, the volume was as high as it has ever been," Daniel Druker, Postini's marketing chief, said Friday.

IronPort's Craig Sprosts has similar news. "As we speak right now, IronPort is seeing one of the largest image spam outbreaks since the start of the year," he said.

Neither company can explain the lull in spam. It could be the fiber-optic line that got cut in an earthquake in Taiwan, it could be that the spammers took a vacation, "or something totally different," both said.