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3/23/2005
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User Ignorance To Blame For Spam

Chief among users' sins is clicking on links in spam messages. Some 31% of respondents reported clicking on the links other than "unsubscribe" links.

If you're looking for someone to blame for all that spam in your in-box, look no further than the face reflected in your computer screen. A new survey finds that users' behavior sustains the spam economy. The survey was conducted by Mirapoint Inc., a maker of E-mail server and security appliances, and the Radicati Group, a messaging market-research firm.

"Major advancements in technology approaches that routinely achieve 90%-plus catch-rates are becoming widely available, yet no technology in the world can protect an organization if users exercise bad E-mail behavior," Marcel Nienhuis, an analyst at the Radicati Group, said in a statement.

Chief among users' sins is clicking on links in spam messages. Some 31% of respondents report clicking on the links other than "unsubscribe" links. To spammers, this merely confirms an active E-mail account, which leads to continued spamming. And to make matters worse, clicking on embedded links may open the door to malicious code that can spread throughout an organization, or they may lead directly to phishing sites.

Clicking on "unsubscribe" links doesn't appear to be much better. Eighteen percent of those surveyed have tried to "unsubscribe" from spammers' lists. While such links may be legally required under the Can-Spam Act, they're widely believed to be misused.

And over 10% of those answering the survey admit to having purchased a product advertised in spam. Thanks to such economic support, in-boxes are sure to be well-stocked with spam for some time to come.

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