Are you starting to dread the chore of checking e-mail every morning—wading through that long list of irrelevant junk mail that seems to keep getting longer every day? You are not alone. And, yes, it really is getting worse.
Nine times out of 10 the e-mail in your in-box is junk, that’s according to Ironport, a company with a vested interest in junk e-mail because it creates spam-filtering software. Ironport says the problem is getting worse, despite the federal Can-Spam Act of 2003 that was supposed to allow recipients the choice of opting out of receiving future messages from senders, because of the increasing sophistication of spammers. The truth is, the volume of spam worldwide doubled from 2005 to 2006, the company reports.
Much of that increase, it adds, has to do with a trick of the technology. Senders have been placing the wording of an advertisement—everything from the latest stock tip to low, low mortgage rates and online pharmaceuticals—as part of an image, fooling most spam detectors that look for words and phrases that typically tip off spam’s content. This so-call “image spam” now represents 24 to 45 percent of all junk e-mail, Ironport says.
Anti-spam software typically fights junk e-mail three ways: by scanning messages looking for who sent them, looking for key words contained in the message, and checking to see which Web site the message is linked to. Newer versions of spam, however, are finding ways around each. The anti-spam industry is fighting back, of course, with added computing power and new strategies to identify and block