In a survey conducted earlier this fall by Bluestreak, US online users did not seem overly concerned about the amount of spam in their e-mail boxes. With the exception of users ages 50 and older, none of them thought spam accounted for more than 20% of the volume of e-mails they received.
But several more recent surveys say otherwise.
According to the online security firm IronPort Systems
, 62 billion spam messages a day
clogged US e-mail systems in October, and that is twice the volume of the previous October.
IronPort analysts cited two reasons for the increase: one, more types of spam, and two, an increase in the number of "bot" networks that deliver spam. Together they account for a record crush of unsolicited commercial e-mail.
IronPort estimates over 80% of spam is delivered by bot nets.
"[Spam] is rocketing," John Thielens of Tumbleweed Communications
told USA Today
. "It is less costly to launch an attack because of the widespread availability of bot nets, and there are real economic returns for phishing-related spam."
The news comes as a blow to anti-spam advocates, many of whom — after a leveling of unsolicited commercial e-mail in 2005 — foresaw a decline in spam this year.
Corroborating the increase, Postini
, an e-mail message management firm, tracks more than one million bots carrying spam each day — also more than twice the number of a year ago.
In fact, from September to November, Postini saw a 59% increase in overall spam.
The firm reports that unwanted e-mail is currently 91% of all e-mail, and over the past 12 months the daily volume of spam rose by 120%.
"This dramatic rise in spam attacks on corporate networks has the Internet under a state of siege," said Daniel Druker of Postini. "Spammers are increasingly aggressive and sophisticated in their techniques. Spam has evolved from a tool for nuisance hackers and annoying marketers to one for criminal enterprises."
The problem is not limited to the US, either.
A survey from the European Commission found that over half of all e-mails sent in the EU are spam, with some users reporting that up to 80% of their inboxes are stuffed with the unsolicited messages.
"Spam is still making up between 50% and 80% of the mails that we are receiving in Europe," said EU spokesman Martin Selmayr.
Europeans blame much of their spam problem on outside sources, however.
Mr. Selmayr said the US accounted for 21.6% of the spam coming into the EU. China ranked second with 13.4%, and in third place was EU member France, which accounted for 6.3% of the volume.