Why the SPAM problem continues

What do sex, drugs and software have in common? They are the top three things purchased off spam email.

Have you ever thought about why you receive so much spam every day (for me it averages between 20 and 50 messages a day even after SpamAssassin has done its filtering)? Well, you can blame the 29 percent of Internet users that admit to purchasing items from spam email, according to a recent survey. Often these goods are pirated, counterfeit, or cheap knock-off’s that would be difficult to come by through the legitimate market.

More than 150 billion spam messages circulate daily, accounting for more than 85 percent of the total number of emails sent throughout the world. The sheer volume of spam consumes an enormous amount of bandwidth and remains one of the Internet’s biggest security problems.

And there’s little incentive to stop the spam. Recent FBI prosecutions of “bot-herders” suggest that the going rate is as little as $5 to $10 per million messages. Response rates are generally low – approximately 10 purchases are made for every million spam messages sent – but enough people purchase from spam to make it worthwhile for spammers to continue waging battle on your “Junk” folder in the hopes that one will slip through into your Inbox.

The top spam sellers include sexual enhancement pills, software, “adult material” and luxury items such as watches and jewellery.

The survey of Internet users was done by in June and July of 2008 by Marshal’s Threat Research and Content Engineering (TRACE) team. Marshal’s research indicates that just five botnets account for 80 percent of the world’s spam.

In 2004, only 20 percent of Internet users copped to purchasing items off spam email, according to a similar survey by Forrester Research. The increase in the last few years has led to a dramatic influx of spam email; reports indicate that global spam volumes doubled for the year ending June 2008 from the previous year’s levels.

The trend is not moving in the right direction as you’ve probably noticed. The question is how to fix it!? Maybe the ISP’s should be more active along with all hosting companies offering email services? What do you think could make this problem go away?

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