Spam taking up most of the Internet bandwidth?

Is spam taking up a lot of both the network as well as CPU bandwidth on the Internet?

Spam is not just email, it also comes in another form - spam comments on websites. A large number of machines seem engineered to attack any website that allows for user comments. is a low volume personal site, so it was a shock to see the monthly bandwidth go up from the usual 2-3G per month to over 9G/month. Investigating this led to the conclusion that is is mostly comment spam activity, and most of it coming from machines in China.

Spam Load Stats - Click for full-size

The attached image (click on image for full size) shows the huge increase in spam processing. This may not have been a problem, but it also causes a huge increase in the system load. Over this same period, IP addresses from China accounted for 67% of total traffic, and over 6G of network traffic. I very seriously doubt people in China have any interest in any part of this site.

Here's a table that shows data from the AWstats and spam logging programs:

Website Activity
/ Before Nov 2012 As of Nov 2012 Change due to Spam
Bandwidth Used 2.2 GB/month 9.4 GB/month 4x
Spam Comments Attempted
500 / day 5000 / day 10x
Spam Comments Attempted
1,000 / day 10,000 / day 10x
Bandwitdh used by
IP addresses from China
0.3 GB/month 6.3 GB/month 20x

So a small personal site can get bombarded with a heavy load of nothing but spam comments and posts. And this means spam activity takes a significant portion of the CPU and network bandwidth for such sites. For large sites, this may not be a problem - the percentage of spam may be small compared to real activity. But there are far more small sites than large sites, and if many small sites are getting bombarded by spambots posting comments, that means a lot of the network and CPU bandwidth that underpins the internet is just waste! Such a terrible thing... and not much can be done about it.

Since January 2013, I’ve turned off all user-based commenting at this site. I don’t expect network activity to fall much since the spam machines will still continue to probe and try their posts, but maybe after awhile they will leave this site alone (wishful thinking!).