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Sun 1 Apr 2007 12:56 PM

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Spam volumes predicted to make up 90% of email by end of 2007

At least 90% of all e-mails are likely to be spam by the end of 2007 if it continues to grow at its current rate, e-mail content security firm Marshal has warned.

At least 90% of all e-mails are likely to be spam by the end of 2007 if it continues to grow at its current rate, e-mail content security firm Marshal has warned.

The firm's threat research and content engineering (Trace) team found the volume of spam has increased 280% since October - driven in part by a "dramatic" increase in spam coming out of China and South Korea - and currently accounts for around 85% of all e-mails received.

"If the current increases in spam volumes continue in 2007, users can expect at least 90 per cent of all e-mails received to be spam by the end of the year," said Bradley Anstis, director of product management at Marshal.

"Although it is difficult to see the levels dropping over an extended period of time, it is also hard to imagine such high levels of spam in today's e-mail traffic.

"Many in the industry predicted that the spam problem would be resolved by now, yet in 2007 it is difficult to foresee when spam filters will no longer be required," Anstis added.

He speculated that the current upsurge in spam originating in Asia is the result of a newly-activated botnet in the continent, which would explain a sharp rise in spam levels.

The volume of spam has in fact already crossed the 90% barrier, according to other security firms. Postini reported that spam accounted for 94% of all electronic mail last December.

While spam filters are effective at blocking the majority of junk email, spammers are continually developing more effective mechanisms to bypass filtering systems.

The huge volume of spam also has implications for corporate bandwidth consumption and email server capacity.

Efforts by lawmakers around the world to hit back at spammers have met with mixed results. The US's CAN-SPAM Act has seen a number of prosecutions, but commentators have speculated that spammers simply shift their operations away from territories with anti-spam laws to areas such as South-East Asia.

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