Spam is 95% of email traffic, says Barracuda

By Justin Mann on December 12, 2007, 7:34 PM
How big is the spam problem? Has it been declining over the years? The answers are huge and, sadly, no. In fact, spam has been growing at a significant rate. Nearly four years ago, approximately 70% of the email flowing through the world's servers was spam. Now it has risen to an obscene 95%, a figured pulled from a study done by Barracuda Networks.

They determined after scanning over a billion messages sent per day that spam has continued to increase year after year. Other interesting figures were pulled from the surveys, including an increased usage of attachments for spam.

Where exactly, though, do we go from here? Spam in the inbox may be a nuisance, but an overwhelming majority of email traffic being composed of spam is another issue altogether. Legislation, technology, 3rd party companies there have been many, many attempts to curbing spam. And yet, the problem remains. In fact, it is only getting worse.

User Comments: 11

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beef_jerky4104 said:
Wow that is insane!
Julio said:
That may be somewhat accurate, I can get up to two hundred spam messages on my inbox WITH a spam filter installed on the server. If only all those RIAA suits would target spammers instead of music uploaders, we would be saved...
Rick said:
Despite the enormous amount sent out, SPAM filters work pretty well. In fact, I think there may be a correlation between how well SPAM filters work and these 'findings'. It's probably 95% (which could a fairly accurate number) only because SPAM filters WORK now. Four years ago, SPAM filters were hardly as effective... And the same goes as you travel back in time to their infancy.In short, emails may have been 95% SPAM since 2000 for all we know... We are just now getting reliable results.
Julio said:
What spam filter do you use Rick? For me automated ones do not work at all, Bayesian-based ones work much better but need training obviously.
Gars said:
95%? really? a little underrate maybe:[url]
[/url]this is a 1 year stats (+/- month)
phantasm66 said:
This will keep on happening until we create technology that actually "understands" the content of e-mails and web pages. That's a very difficult task. Computers, whilst great at many things, are stupid when it comes to understanding content. We may be several years away from an answer.
Marti said:
Just imagine, that every mailserver would be really bored without the spam :). I have one Xeon 3.0 and 2GB of ram... and my bayes eats almost everything. I remember the times that I had one PIII and 512 gigs of ram, and almost the same number of real mails (not spam)Best regards,Marcin[url][/url]
kitty500cat said:
I've found SpamAssassin to be pretty effective at catching spam & phish.
windmill007 said:
Google (Gmail) spam filters are the best as I never get any spam...Yahoo is ok...And Hotmail (MSN) sucks. At work we outsource our email thru and there spam filters are almost as good as gmails. So I don't see the spam any more. I feel bad for the servers though if they are in house. Such a waste of processing power and bandwidth. Outsouceing work email and using gmail at home is the best way to avoid the spam problem.
bushwhacker said:
Google Mail does a good job.The only thing we need to do is to stop the spamming services. Especially the one from Nigeria.
9Nails said:
BOT'nets are also increasing as a major source of Spam. I don't have statistics, but I'd argue that they are the major source of Spam today. Infected Windows computers can be pointed to as the source of the BOT'net Spam. By blocking dynamic IP Addresses, one can quickly reduce the amount of Spam delivered without needing to first filter and use computational power to determine if messages are Spam or Ham.Rick, Spam is adapting each year. Initially, Spam looked nothing like an email that you would want. They were poorly written and obvious marketing attempts. Filtering Spam in the 2000's was easy, you could key in on "Viagra" or "Mortgage" and block a majority of it. Spam adapted slightly and started to obfuscate their words as V1agra or Mortg@ge. Spam filters improved and were still able to catch these because word patterns were still predictable. Spam then included news articles to try and lower their Spam scores by raising the amount of words in the message. This was an attempt to pass through the filter by having more meat than filler. This wasn't very effective, and filters caught on quickly. Shortly after Spam made a dramatic improvement and was delivered inside of attachments such as PDF or MP3's. By now, most users were paranoid and refused to open attachments. Filtering now employed OCR, but it was users paranoid habits that reduced the effectiveness of this type of Spam. Shortly there after, Spam was being sent as an image. Further tweaks to OCR were able to catch these. Recently, images are being broken into many smaller images to confuse OCR. The images are then reassembled into a table so that they can be read by the user. Filters are now employing fingerprints submitted from multiple domains to combat Spam. As you can see, it's a see-saw battle between Spam and Spam filters. And as you would suggest, the current upper hand can thankfully be given to the Filters.
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