The World Just Got Back 13 Terawatt Hours of Spam-Wasted Electricity!

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Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates hasn’t done much for the environment, for a billionaire who’s put real money behind other urgent global problems. But that just changed. Microsoft has just essentially given back to the world about 13 terawatt hours (TWh) of electric power that has been wasted every year – on spam! is reporting that Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit, working with federal law enforcement agents, has just brought down the world’s largest spam network, Rustock.

“At its peak, it was a botnet of around 2 million spam-sending zombies capable of sending out 30 billion spam email per day. Microsoft’s wholesale slaughter of Rustock could reduce worldwide spam output by up to 39%.

Rustock was taken down, piece by piece, in a similar way to the Mega-D botnet. First the master controllers, the machines that send out commands to enslaved zombies, were identified. Microsoft quickly seized some of these machines located in the U.S. for further analysis, and worked with police in the Netherlands to disable some of the command structure outside of the U.S”.

More lurid details for geeks at

Spam is not only a big waste of your time, but it is a much bigger waste of a simply staggering amount of global electricity supplies. Transmitting, processing and filtering spam has been estimated by McAfee at taking an astonishing 33 billion kilowatt hours – that’s 33 terawatt hours (TWh) – of the global energy supply, every year!

Enough power, according to McAfee, in their “The Carbon Footprint of Spam” study, to “power 2.4 million homes” – in the first world.

In the third world – where Bill Gates does humanitarian work –  that would go much further, and likely be enough to at least power some lighting for the last 2 billion people in the world that currently do not even have any electricity all.

Or the world could shutter quite a few dirty coal plants.

Cutting 33 terawatt hours of wasted energy worldwide by 39% is very, very, very huge. That’s been one hefty carbon footprint.

So thanks go to Bill Gates: unlikely climate hero!

Susan Kraemer@Twitter

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