Thursday, July 03, 2008

Gasta News: Spam, Spam and More Spam!

Spam experiment overloads inboxes

Surfing the web unprotected will leave the average web user with 70 spam messages each day, according to an experiment by security firm McAfee.

It invited 50 people from around the world, including five from the UK, to surf without spam filters.

The experiment revealed that UK residents are most likely to be targeted by the infamous Nigerian e-mails and "adult" spam.

One UK participant received 5,414 spam e-mails during the month-long trial.

But the US still tops the global spam league.

Participants in the US received a total of 23,233 spam e-mails during the course of the experiment compared to 15,856 for the second most spammed country - Brazil.

In the UK, the five participants racked up 11,965 spam messages during the course of the experiment. Germany attracted the least spam, with just 2,331 junk messages.

Real threat

The results show that spam is showing no signs of slowing down, although the opposite can be said of those receiving messages.

"Many of our participants noticed that their computers were slowing down. This means that while they were surfing, unbeknownst to them, websites were installing malware," said Guy Roberts, director of McAfee's labs in Europe.

Some 8% of the total spam received during the experiment was classified as phishing e-mails - messages that pose as a trustworthy source as a way of getting sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and bank account details.

"Spam is most definitely much more than a nuisance; it's a very real and fast-growing threat," said Mr Roberts.

The firm also noticed a shift away from mass spam to more targeted campaigns.

The most popular subject of spam remains financial - pre-approved loans or credit cards

The UK is the most likely country to be targeted by Nigerian spam e-mails, where someone supposedly from Nigeria contacts their target to inform that they are the beneficiary of a will in a bid to extract money from them.

The variety and amount of spam on offer surprised participants according to Dave De Walt, chief executive of McAfee.

"Our participants came from all walks of life, from all over the world and, given their interest to take part in the experiment, they were well aware of the problem. Despite this, they were all shocked by the sheer amount of spam they attracted," he said.

Dealing with it is going to be tricky though, he admitted.

"We can see from the experiment that spam is undeniably linked to cybercrime.

"However, it is such an immense problem and it's never going to go away. It's no longer a question of solving it but one of managing it," said Mr De Walt.

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US - 23,233,Brazil - 15,856,Italy - 15,610,Mexico - 12,229,UK - 11,965,Australia - 9,214The Netherlands - 6,378,Spain - 5,419,France - 2,597,Germany - 2,331

Data supplied by McAfee