Google – what happened to less spam?

I read an interesting article today on Tech Republic. Poster Tim Malone noticed that at his company in a 30 day period, out of the 12 million emails received, 96% was marked as . Not unusual, but it counters an earlier article back in December where mentioned how Spammers are giving up. So does this mean that is wrong, or are Spammers just becoming seasonal and getting the bulk mailing out of the way?

At the beginning of the year, Barracuda Networks claimed that 95% of all email in 2007 was Spam. Except in this case, Tims’ company was 1% over the average. And of course, we are only in the first month of 2008 so this may average out better by June or July.

Still, can we really expect Spam to dissipate in the future?

I had a email address for general communication with friends and some “signup” sites for about 5 years now. Up until last month, I would rarely get spammed on that email. Then, something happened and it pretty much exploded the address. In the last two days (when I last cleaned out my Spambox) I received 42 messages in the Spambox and 12 Spam messages in my Inbox. I received 3 valid emails. 95% Spam.

For businesses, this is a big issue. Spam can cost businesses Millions or even Billions of dollars a year, not to mention the time to , and possibly lose a valid email or two in the process.

Let’s look at it this way: One person has an email account. 95% of email received is Spam. The consumer uses a program to filter this. The consumer in turn will lose a few emails a year (depending on how much email is sent to them) because the Spam filters will think it’s Spam, unless the consumer is on top of that and catches the email early. If they don’t, they could lose business.

Now in reality, the average user has 2-3 email accounts. 1 is for work, 1 is for personal and the third might be a filter. If those boxes receive 100 emails a month, theory dictates 95 will be spam.

To put that to the test, I set up 2 emails – Janie and Billy. Billy was the control, while I used Janies’ email to sign up and get a free $200 gift card. By the end of the first month, Janies’ activity included 92% spam while Billy’s account was at 1 email – the welcome email that was received upon registering.

The amount of Spam can get out of hand. But don’t always blame the Spammers. I have been on a few email services in my time. One in particular (which doesn’t exist anymore) was actually devious in their mail tactics. Apparently, they took my email address and sold it to spammers. Within a few weeks I received hundreds of emails. I promptly closed that account.

Will the problem get worse? Yes. Like I mentioned in the previous article, the amount of emails will increase in 2008. New companies form, new users get on the internet, etc. There will be accounts disabled throughout 2008, but that most likely will not stop the spammer from doing what they do best.

In the meantime, we just have to be aware of what we do with our emails. Easier said than done. With most sites asking for email addresses nowadays, it’s not a stretch to say at least one site will get compromised or one person will send their email to a spam-sellers’ address.

Curbing Spam would be like trying to stop water from flowing. We can build a dam, but will it be strong enough to hold every drop of water?  

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