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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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Using "time sent" to Identify Spam??
By Sunday Ironfoot on 7/19/2009 12:43:44 PM , Rating: 5
"A mere 3 percent looked at the time the email was sent -- one easy way to identify spam."

I'm currious, how is that an easy way to identify spam? Spam can be sent at any time.

By TSS on 7/19/2009 1:49:09 PM , Rating: 5
as am i... looking at my mailbox right now i've got 3 spam emails (already deleted a few earlyer) recieved at 4:43pm, 6:06 PM and 7:19 pm. that doesn't strike me as suspicious really.

the subjects however... well....

eHarmony eHarmony - find singles like you

the caps mostly gives it away. i could imagine some lonely desperate fellow clicking on the eharmony one, but then again why try and contract a virus without the fun evening?

RE: Using "time sent" to Identify Spam??
By FS on 7/19/2009 2:59:07 PM , Rating: 2
Sometimes it's so obvious. For example, today is the 19th and if you get a mail with July 21st as the date received you know it's Spam.

By Alexstarfire on 7/19/2009 5:33:13 PM , Rating: 5
Perhaps, but I never even look at the time. Everything else is a dead give away before I even get that far along the email tag line. I would certainly consider myself a self-proclaimed internet expert, and I can tell you that if you really consider yourself an email expert you don't click on anything that could even remotely be spam.

To be honest I don't even look into my spam folder unless I'm expecting an email to arrive. All my legit email arrives in my inbox. If I happen to get an eBay or Paypal email in my spam folder I just laugh.

RE: Using "time sent" to Identify Spam??
By AlexWade on 7/19/2009 6:23:16 PM , Rating: 2
I was getting dozens of spam emails a day that made it past the filters. Then I noticed something about them. 95% of them were from my email address. Of course it was forged. But noticing that, I set my mail server to block all emails that it received that were labeled from me and to me. Now, at most 1 email a week gets through my spam filter.

RE: Using "time sent" to Identify Spam??
By croc on 7/19/09, Rating: -1
RE: Using "time sent" to Identify Spam??
By psychobriggsy on 7/20/2009 6:24:36 AM , Rating: 2
How did you get to this conclusion?

You don't need to send email from the domain's mail server for it to have a "From:" email address. This is one of the biggest flaws with SMTP, although there are some systems in place to try and stop it like domain keys and so on, but that requires spam filter and email client support.

By Mitch101 on 7/20/2009 8:44:08 AM , Rating: 2
You could turn on reverse lookup but there are so many mis-configured e-mail servers out there on the web. Many without correct DNS records, missing DNS records like they brought the sever online before the DNS records are in place or never configured a DNS record for that e-mail server. If you turn on reverse lookup you would wind up blocking tons of legitimate e-mail so most companies are forced to leave it off. I would love to turn on reverse lookup and even add certificates but the e-mail field has a lot of lousy admins.

Yahoo used to bring up e-mail servers before the DNS records are in place. Sadly a lot of business people have and use Yahoo accounts.

By AlexWade on 7/20/2009 8:29:18 AM , Rating: 2
My email server is password protected. You need a username and password, albeit unsecured, to send emails. The spammers were forging the header data, did you not read that in my post?

RE: Using "time sent" to Identify Spam??
By Marlonsm on 7/19/2009 3:30:27 PM , Rating: 2
It won't help you identifying all spam, but a message sent at 4:00 AM is either spam, or a very drunk friend, so it's not something you'd want to read seriously.

RE: Using "time sent" to Identify Spam??
By Voo on 7/19/2009 5:37:36 PM , Rating: 2
Ah the virtues of ignorance.

Ever thought that you could have acquaintance in other timezones as well?

Yeah ok if the time can't be true (2 days in the future..), but I yet have to get spam where a single look in the subject line isn't enough (well, maybe I'm just lucky)..

By Soodey on 7/19/2009 6:36:12 PM , Rating: 3
I have a junk email specifically set up for providing email when I don't trust the source or just don't want them clogging up my real inboxes. Taking a look in that inbox now I see I have an email from Mon, 1/18/38 and another from Mon, 10/15/35. Now obviously, not every spam email is going to be this ridiculous, but hey, it's one easy way to check.

By MonkeyPaw on 7/19/2009 9:08:48 PM , Rating: 5
I'm currious, how is that an easy way to identify spam? Spam can be sent at any time.

Well, I check the time stamps of ALL my emails. While you're all busy doing things the hard way, I'll be receiving deposit after deposit of unclaimed African moneys. You snooze, you lose!

By bodar on 7/20/2009 2:46:17 PM , Rating: 2
What, you don't get the emails from 30 yrs in the future? That's how they try to stay at the top of your inbox.

By ggordonliddy on 7/20/2009 11:27:12 PM , Rating: 2
Al Gore (the CREATOR of the Inter-tubes), taught me my moves. I can breakdance (as it were) through the 'tubes with the best of my brothas. And when I feel sad, I eat some reddish brown squishy logs 'n stuff.

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.

Still waiting..
By Pythias on 7/19/2009 8:05:32 PM , Rating: 2
...on that check form my rich nigerian uncle.

RE: Still waiting..
By Simgamer on 7/19/2009 8:46:01 PM , Rating: 3
...Hey he's MY rich Nigerian Uncle

RE: Still waiting..
By gmyx on 7/19/2009 9:26:55 PM , Rating: 2
He a good chuckle:

RE: Still waiting..
By Mitch101 on 7/20/2009 8:48:57 AM , Rating: 2
This is my favorite

The 3rd Annual Nigerian EMail Conference
"Write better emails. Make more moneys."

RE: Still waiting..
By Spivonious on 7/20/2009 9:27:59 AM , Rating: 2
Here's another good one for the 419s:

By ecbsykes on 7/19/2009 9:02:54 PM , Rating: 2
What spam?

Oh wait... I use Gmail. :D

RE: Spam?
By Spivonious on 7/20/2009 9:28:49 AM , Rating: 3
What spam? Oh wait I use Hotmail.

What spam? Oh wait I use Comcast.

What spam? Oh wait my company has a spam filter.

Gmail is not special.

RE: Spam?
By wuZheng on 7/20/2009 10:28:24 AM , Rating: 2
You're also doing it wrong.

Click Here
By jemix on 7/20/2009 9:48:35 PM , Rating: 2
Click here to learn something cool about spam...


RE: Click Here
By jemix on 7/21/2009 12:33:22 AM , Rating: 2
Trust Me ;)

As an example...
By gmyx on 7/19/2009 9:24:20 PM , Rating: 2
As an example to someone, i clicked on one of those phishing e-mail (Citibank). Of course, when the form pop-up I had fun - I forget how many nasty things I wrote in that form. My point was made when I hit the submit button - hey it worked! That person immediately understood how dangerous spam can be.

But then there are always those idots: I was at a Service Canada counter a couple of weeks ago and the idiot besides me is pleading with the clerk to issue him a new SIN card because he answered a spam asking for it. I had to restrain myself from laughing. I should of asked for his CC... Of well... next time.

By EricMartello on 7/20/2009 2:21:12 AM , Rating: 2
In a perfect world everything would be free and we'd have no ads anywhere, but even here on DT you will be bombarded with ads. You might even say the front page of AnandTech is a spam haven for banner ads...and eventually someone will click on some of those ads.

While spam isn't supporting a free service, it is making SOMEONE, somewhere money...and that is why it happens. I don't like getting bombarded with spam, but on the otherhand I don't think it's ever going away. The best we can hope for are mostly effective spam blockers or an improved email protocol that isn't so easy to spoof.

Stats are so high because...
By Schrag4 on 7/20/2009 9:07:37 AM , Rating: 2
...the same people who would respond to spam would say "Ok, sure, why not?" when asked if they want to participate in a study about their email/internet habits. The rest of us don't have time to participate in a study or read unsolicited emails.

In other news....
By Goty on 7/20/2009 9:22:48 AM , Rating: 2
In other news, one in six U.S. and Canadian citizens is a complete moron!

"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes

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