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28 Dec 2006
An earthquake on Tueday near Taiwan caused widespread disruption to telephone and Internet networks. The quake affected an area of the sea bottom with a lot of undersea cables that broke, and since there is only a limited number of cable repair ships, it will take at least weeks to fish them up and splice them.
China and Korea were heavily affected, with most of their connectivity to the rest of the world cut off. Not surprisingly, this meant that the rest of the world got a lot less spam, too. Neither country is the haven for overt spammers that it used to be, but both have large broadband networks with vast numbers of virus controlled zombie computers. One large network in North America saw their mail from Korea drop by 90% and from China by 99%. Since the mail sent from those countries to the US is typically 99% spam and 1% legitimate mail, the earthquake's effect on e-mail was, to a first approximation, to get rid of a lot of spam. Brett Glass, a journalist who runs a small rural ISP in Wyoming, noted that if the affected countries dealt more effectively with their spam, they might not well have needed all of the capacity they'd lost.
China and Korea are not alone in sending 99% spam; I see many countries in Europe, South America, and elsewhere in Asia that are just as bad. It would be nice if this were a wakeup call to networks to deal with parasitic usage, but I'm not holding my breath.
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