350 billion spam messages yearly are adding $$$ to your Internet bill

Financial Times just published an article about the “secret war on web crooks.” The article contains several interesting tidbits of information about spam and the challenges of trying to prevent it.

349.8 billion spam messages in 2008

Some spam statistics from the article (at least part of it is from Symantec):

  • 349.6 billion spam messages were sent across the Internet in 2008.
  • Almost 94% of all emails are spam.
  • Nearly 90% of all spam is sent from botnets (hijacked home PCs controlled from the outside by the spammers).
  • There are more than 9.4 million computers that have been hijacked and are used for, among other things, sending out spam (and since most people never notice that their PCs have been hijacked, they don’t do anything about it).

And let’s not forget that botnets are also often used for DDoS attacks.

And guess who’s paying the bill

As you can imagine it takes a lot of resources to battle all this spam. Speaking with FT, Michael O’Rierdan, chairman of the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group – of which Google, Yahoo and many Internet service providers (ISPs) are members – estimates that most big ISPs have 5-10 employees hired just to look at spam, not to mention all the extra equipment and spam-filtering software that is needed and increased support costs for their customers.

And surprise, surprise, those costs are moved on to the ISP customers (i.e. YOU), who are the ones ultimately paying the bill. Patrick Peterson, CTO of Ironport Systems (the email security arm of Cisco) calls spam a “stealth tax on consumers.”

So there you have it. You can thank spammers for adding to your monthly Internet bill. (Don’t you just love spammers?)

The Financial Times article is a good read, so we recommend that you head on over to FT.com and check it out.

Photo credit: Spam wall by freezelight.

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