Ipswitch Inc has published the seventh Spamometer survey results, revealing that spam is now at its highest rate since recording began. How high would that be? Well for the same spring period last year the measure was some 62% of all received email, that has risen to an incredible 93% of all email received according to the network monitoring specialists.
Of this number, 34% can be attributed to the growing scourge of pharmacy spam, narrowly pipping financial and phishing on 33% to the top (dis)honor. Gambling on 7% and Pornography on 5% make up the top four spaces, assuming that we discount the actual third place category of ‘undecipherable’ on 12%.
This report comes hot on the coat-tails of an IDC study which warned that more than 40 billion spam messages would be sent worldwide during 2007, courtesy of a combination of the success in getting image-based spam past filtering mechanism and the increased response rates via email sender ID spoofing.
Just to add to the email problem, MessageLabs which operates a managed email service has revealed that there is a growing coming together of spam and virus activity, with cyber-crime being the driving force. Criminal gangs are starting to act ever more like structured businesses, looking to milk every bottom line dollar from the spamming service they provide. And so it is that MessageLabs have been intercepting messages which contain pump-and-dump stock scam spams along with links to malware laden websites. Visit the website, disengage your common sense for long enough to download the ‘screensaver’ you find and hey presto, as if by magic your computer is infected with the Zhelatin MeSpam engine and becomes part of the criminal evil empire, continuing the more spam cycle.
By layering one threat on top of the other, the gangs are delivering a double security whammy at half the cost. Think of it as pump-dump-infect I guess, I know many a bug business that would be proud of the ingenuity and innovation displayed by these gangs. On the other hand, poor schmucks like me and you have to put up with 93% of our email being rubbish, and increasingly we can look forward to it being infected rubbish.
The toxicity has to stop if email is to remain a truly useful communications medium. Unfortunately, without going down the spam-vigilante route, or bringing in the death penalty for spamming scumbags, the problem will remain.
Yes, anti-spam filtering technology is improving all the time. No, it isn’t diminishing the amount of spam being sent. Yes, laws are in place around the world to deal with spammers. No, they are not working, at all. Yes, I love email. No, I’m not using it as much as I used to. IM, texting and, wait for it, even good old fashioned pen and ink and postage stamp are increasingly demanding my communication time.
Spam is destroying the marvel of modern messaging, what can we do to stop the rot? Serious suggestions welcome, on a postcard please.