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Blizzard of SPAM

Bill Zahren

Pitstop users face a blizzard of spam - mostly aimed at the crotch.

The PC Pitstop users report they face more of a storm of spam than they did two years ago, with most of it aimed at sex, drugs and the theory that "bigger is better."

The survey found that anyone who suffers from erectile dysfunction or is interested in increased penis size (including women) seems to have plenty of spam-delivered options. Pitstop users also reported a deluge of spam for software sales, Web greeting cards and excited emails from lawyers claiming the recipients have inherited money from strangers.

Some 1,656 PC Pitstop visitors took the Spam and Phishing Survey in August.

Survey takers overwhelmingly described themselves as having "intermediate" expertise (67.5%) and as "male" (73.6%). We're assuming the latter response is much less subjective than the former.

The vast majority of survey respondents (72.8%) reported having between two and five email addresses which attracted up to 20 valid emails and up to 50 spam emails per day.

Analysis of the type of spam reported shows that the adage - sex sells - is alive and well in spamdom - as evidence by a serious fixation on the male sex organ.

Survey participants reported they received a lot of spam for "erectile dysfunction" (as in ads allegedly for the drugs Viagra and Cialis), "a larger penis" and "online pharmacies." Trailing the male reproductive-related products were things like Web greeting cards (which are really evil bots in disguise), software sales, stock recommendations, unknown PDFs and replica watches.

Being female was no shield against the penis-related spam. Women who responded to the survey also ranked erectile dysfunction, a larger penis and online pharmacy as their top three. A stat that may or may not be related: Virtually all 432 women who answered the survey (91%) reported being over 40 years old. Of female respondents, a third said they were over 59.

Either spammers are firing blind or hoping women will take the first step. Large majorities of survey respondents of both genders said dealing with the spam onslaught takes between 5 and 15 minutes per day and that they believe spam today is "much worse" than it was two years ago."

A strong 88% of survey takers said they use a spam filter, but half the participants said they "still get way too much spam" despite those filters.

Survey summary results:

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deerlady: Blizzard of SPAM (Tue, 30 Oct 2007 20:22:45 GMT)
what about those "jokes" that get forwarded and forwarded with tons of e-mail addresses just there for the picking? Is there someone out there waiting to harvest these?
soupie4: Blizzard of SPAM (Sat, 15 Sep 2007 01:59:03 GMT)
I thought the article was interesting - a quick read, liked the humour, and was interested to see proportions taken up by the different types of spam email.

I hadn't assumed this article would provide me with solutions to the spam issue - there is plenty of other information on the web about the struggle on this, as well as different views of how it should be managed. :-) So I wasn't expecting specific "usefulness" out of this article, as others here apparently did.

In relation to protection from spam, there are many spam filters, both free and commercial, that provide some protection, and other tips and tools people implement as well. The current "Blizzard of Spam" on the net is something I reckon most people experience - and it was no surprise to me to see that over 70% of the survey respondents said the flood of spam has increased.

I manage several email addresses, both personal and for business. I encode all email addresses on our website, keep one email address exclusively for web logins, another for personal mail (friends and family only) and yet another for subscribing to mailing lists. For some time, these strategies kept all email adresses connected with our business domain name relatively free of spam.

However more recently the increase in spam has been huge. I'm assuming this will happen anyway, the longer a domain and website are online.

Interestingly (given PORTHOS' experience) the email address that has been most affected by this increase in spam is the one I give only to friends and family! I guess this is because a number of my friends or family members still sadly have the tendency to hit 'forward' on any joke, chain letter or other similar message that comes their way. ;-) AND what's more, those same people seem oblivious to the use of the BCC field when sending a message to a large number of their own friends and contacts. :-(

I always reply, as tactfully as I can, to ask them to PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE use BCC for 'bulk' emails. But I guess in many cases the damage may already be done and my email address is 'out there' for harvesting by spammers. [sigh]

By contrast, the email address I use for mailing list subscriptions is still almost completely free of spam, in spite of the fact I have over 50 subscriptions. I am assuming I have to thank the care and rigour with which most mailing list owners manage their lists these days. :-)
seremina: Blizzard of SPAM (Fri, 14 Sep 2007 23:31:14 GMT)
Very good article. Both informative and entertaining. I'd rather learn from a poll how often people get this junk than ask my friends. Would you honestly ask them how often they get spam for ED, a bigger weiner, big inheritances you have to lie for to receive, random .pif files and random .pdf files, and I'm -grateful- it was mentioned what all those random greeting card spam things were. I didn't know they were bots.

Spam is a cancer in the email world. It has to be eliminated somehow. Though Gmail is superior for me when it comes to spam control, I'd like to see spam eliminated entirely. On a daily basis, I'm getting 100-200 spam in my Yahoo one. Its just incredible how much spam has grown. I fail to see the profit behind the spam. Are they trying to bugger you into buying or clicking? I'd like the full story.

It'd be a cool "Spam for Dummies" article.
shogan191: Blizzard of SPAM (Fri, 14 Sep 2007 22:16:15 GMT)
Seemed like a well written piece to me. Every article written doesn't have to be the "be-all, end-all" to killing spam. There have been lots of posts, links, and info on ways to reduce spam. I think the info shown about the survey results was the point of the article, not a tutorial on how to reduce spam.

Nice job, thanks.
Spam Fan boy.
tigger2000: Blizzard of SPAM (Fri, 14 Sep 2007 19:40:20 GMT)
QUOTE(cmunson @ 10:23am Wed Sep 12 2007) [snapback]1422158[/snapback]

Ok we are all plagued with the E.D and ***** enlargement spam but lets not forget all the junk from our friends 'the 419 boys' and the scam employment offers. Never a day goes by without 20+ turning up in my mailbox, until governments and service providers take a tough line on these people the problem will continue. Recently though the problem is shifting and the top contenders seem to be online pharmaceutical companies, there seems to be no way to filter or block this spam as every email comes from a different address, most days I receive 20 to 30 of them, if you mail them to complain it just gets worse. What we need is intelligent filtering software that can scan the text body for keywords and a 'simple one click link' in all mail that makes it simple to report spammers and scam artists to their service providers. As to the survey I think it was a valid exercise, all of us are totally fed up with the never ending stream of junk that arrives in our mailbox's on a daily basis so lets all shout about it and then maybe someone will listen to us and start to do something about the problem.
PORTHOS: Blizzard of SPAM (Fri, 14 Sep 2007 18:31:06 GMT)
The only reason people get this junk is they put thier Email address on the web. I keep my main acount free from this junk. I NEVER use this account to do any thing on the web period. The only people that have this address is friends and family. I use a WEB mail account for all the sites that ask for a email address.

The result ... I have NEVER recived a unwanted email over the last 5 years I have had my main email account.

How to stop the crud is more useful than the info here.
badbinary: Blizzard of SPAM (Fri, 14 Sep 2007 18:07:37 GMT)
i hate to say it, but i agree. is the pit running out of ideas or is there really that much of a lack of creative talent on staff?
J J: Blizzard of SPAM (Fri, 14 Sep 2007 17:59:28 GMT)
This was totally the most useless piece of info I have ever read. Why not post something someone can get some good information from. Who cares about an erectile disfunction survey? Have you ever heard of the delete button? Too much attention is focused to below the belt than from the heart anyway.
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