Study Says Spam Up, Porn Down

LEXINGTON, Mass. — While spam and malicious phishing emails continue flooding user inboxes, fewer adult companies are sending spam to promote their products — and fewer hackers are using porn as bait — according to a study from security software maker Ipswitch.

The study said spam accounts for 70 percent of all email, representing a sizable spike compared to 57 percent in December.

Of those spam, slightly more than a third focused on offers for prescription drugs and about one-fifth were related to supposed financial products. Most of those, the company found, were actually phishing scams.

One area that has decreased, thanks primarily to filtering technology, is porn spam or, more likely, fake porn spam. Once the No. 1 form of spam, it now accounts for only 14 percent.

“Conventional spam, by which I mean non-phishing, is less effective than it used to be,” Ipswitch director of product marketing David Karp said. “People are getting wise, and filters are getting better. And I think that is why phishing is on the rise, because a spammer can no longer sell fake watches or fake pornography.”

However, other tech industry analysts point out that while everyone complains about spam, it remains a viable option for marketers simply because a large enough number of users continue to respond to it. A survey from Reflexion Network Solutions in June showed that 22 percent of those surveyed had visited a website from a spam email.

Also in general, spammers continue to outsmart filtering software by using creative spellings for key words and branching out into new technologies.

“The next generation may have new forms of communication, but I would suspect that they'll get a new form of spam,” Karp said. “Spam is appearing in instant messaging, either computer or phone based.”

Karp said most spam, no matter the product category, is a ruse for something other than the product supposedly being sold.

“It's not that legitimate businesses have bad email practices,” Karp said. “These are typically illegitimate business from the get-go. Most companies know how to send emails that are valuable to their customers and take people off lists when they don't want to be on them.”

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