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Americans and Canadians' love of spam has not decreased since the 1950s -- a new survey shows that 1 in 6 respond to spam emails, though most consider themselves internet experts.  (Source:
It's no wonder that spam senders stay active when so many are falling for their schemes

"Don't click the spam... Don't click the spam..." -- perhaps that should become a mantra for internet users in the U.S. and Canada.  A new study (PDF) showed appallingly that one in six users responded to an email posing as spam.

The study was conducted by the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group, an anti-spam trade organization, and shows just how gullible many everyday users are.  It surveyed 800 people and found that many responded to the clearly questionable emails.  Its conclusion is that with spam comprising an estimated 85 to 90 percent of email traffic, these kinds of users are helping to sustain "a booming spam-driven underground economy."

The study found that many believe themselves to be internet experts, but few really are.  Two-third of those surveyed said they were “very” or “somewhat” experienced with Internet security.  However, only one third avoided posting their email address online -- an easy entry for spammers, and only one in four used a different email address for submissions that might be shared with spammers.

Two-thirds believed they could identify spam based on the sender’s name, forty-five percent by the subject line, and 22 percent said "visual indicators" clued them into whether an email was spam.  A mere 3 percent looked at the time the email was sent -- one easy way to identify spam.

Those clicking on the study's Cialis or Michael Jackson emails made a variety of excuses for their behavior.  Approximately 17 percent claimed it was a mistake.  Another 12 percent said the subject or service interested them.  The responses become more humorous from there with 13 percent unable to explain what compelled them to click and respond and 6 percent saying they "wanted to see what would happen."

Of those who said they were "very" or "somewhat" experienced, 12 percent opened spam and loaded its images before deleting it -- sometimes enough to infect your computer -- compared to only 11 percent among those who admitted inexperience.  Amusingly, 14 percent of users -- perhaps some of them Apple buyers -- insisted that they would never be victim of a virus.

Research firm Ferris Research said in comments included with the MAAWG report says these people are mistaken.  It states, "You might assume that the more technically savvy you are, the less likely you are to be hit by a virus, but that is not true.  Our previous research indicates that the more you use computers, the more likely you are to get hit by a virus."

The survey shows that as one might predict, many think they know much more than they really do.  And that's happy news to spammers.

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Not suprising
By Triple Omega on 7/19/2009 12:20:15 PM , Rating: 5
Actually it doesn't surprise me at all that so many fall for this. There are so many examples of people just believing what they are told, accepting what they read, trusting people blindly, all without a shred of proof presented to them. This goes from cults and religions to salesmen and scammers. So the fact that people are fooled by spam doesn't surprise me at all.

RE: Not suprising
By TomZ on 7/19/2009 12:23:36 PM , Rating: 2
I also think a lot of people are using computers they don't own (e.g., at work), and in a way they don't care what might happen. After all, if something goes wrong, it's someone else's problem to fix.

RE: Not suprising
By MattFishel on 7/19/2009 12:25:01 PM , Rating: 2
This isn't hard to believe at all, speaking "60 percent of Canadian users don't mind internet throttling."

RE: Not suprising
By arazok on 7/19/2009 12:48:11 PM , Rating: 5
There are so many examples of people just believing what they are told, accepting what they read, trusting people blindly, all without a shred of proof presented to them.

Our entire political system revolves around this phenomenon.

RE: Not suprising
By eddieroolz on 7/19/2009 7:58:35 PM , Rating: 5

RE: Not suprising
By jeff834 on 7/20/2009 12:18:55 PM , Rating: 2

RE: Not suprising
By ZachDontScare on 7/20/2009 2:55:33 PM , Rating: 2
Change we can believe in.

"If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." -- Scientology founder L. Ron. Hubbard

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