Terry Zink's Cyber Security Blog

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Does nobody buy stuff in spring?

Does nobody buy stuff in spring?

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I'm not familiar with retail trends (which is made obvious by the fact that whenever I buy stocks in the retail sector I lose money) but I have observed an interesting spam phenomenon that has held true in each of 2006, 2007 and 2008.  The peak spam season tends to hit in December and then the new year sees a drop off in spam.  In fact, April tends to be the lowest month in total for spam.

This year, I am observing a 1/4 decline in the total amount of spam from the peak in February.  In 2006, it was about the same, and in 2007 we saw around 20% (but the peak occurred in December 2006).  While it is certainly possible to attribute this to chance, I am going out on a limb and saying that this is a trend.

So why do we see less spam at the start of the year as opposed to the end of the year?  Here are some theories:

  • Law enforcement officials are more aggressive on spammers at the start of the year, knocking out major spammers and/or botnets.

  • Software vendors (ie, Microsoft) have all their employees back from Christmas vacation at the start of the year and put out security patches.  During the summer, more people are on vacation so development cycles take longer, therefore spammers can react quicker when they find security flaws.

  • Spammers go on vacation during the start of the year.  Everyone needs a vacation, spammers are no different.

  • Consumers are tapped out at the start of the year.  January and February are slow in the retail sector after the Christmas rush, and spammers have figured this out.  Ergo, not much point to spamming.

Those are the ones I can think of off the top of my head.  Is there anything else?

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  • PingBack from http://microsoftnews.askpcdoc.com/education/does-nobody-buy-stuff-in-spring

  • There is one other element missed, there are fewer large scale events on which to hang social engineering. Christmas, Valentines day etc. are big events where the general populace ramp up their email use and so easier to slip spam into.

    I'm waiting for the tax day spam to hit.

  • Take a look at web rankings (e.g. alexa) for online stores (e.g. target/bestbuy/circuitcity) and you'll see that there's a clearly defined peak in November and December as sales and holiday shopping take off. As users are more likely to make online purchases using disposable income for novelty gifts and gadgets in this window, it's the perfect time for a spam campaign.

  • Hi Terry,

    You missed one more reason why folks don't buy stuff in the spring - Tax Day. Lots of people pay lots of money to Uncle Sam in April every year.

    Here's a thought - if we switch to the Fair Tax (FairTax.org) then April would not be much different than other months.

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