Every day I get hundreds of unwanted spam messages, and I'm not alone. This week, email-monitoring firm MessageLabs announced that more than 80 percent of all email received in the United States is spam. That number is a huge jump from a year ago, when spam accounted for almost 50 percent of all email.
"Twelve months ago we were just about to pass that 50 percent mark. No one thought it could keep up that pace of increase but it has," MessageLabs Marketing Director Brian Czarny said. "We could see percentages in the upper 90s \[within\] a year."
Worldwide, spam has had less of an impact than it has in the United States. MessageLabs calculates that, overall, two-thirds of all email sent worldwide is spam. But in some countries the percentages are actually much smaller. For example, in the UK, only 52 percent of email is spam, whereas in Germany the figure is 41 percent.
Part of the problem is that spammers have proven to be resilient despite advances in antispam technology and laws designed to hamper spam. Simple, one-word subject lines often fool antispam products, and even purposeful misspellings are increasingly effective. Last Thursday, the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Technology met to discuss spam and heard testimony from spammers that they simply send out more messages to get around spam filters. And efforts continue to combat spam legally. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are currently investigating numerous spammers.