December inboxes clogged with junk mail

Unsolicited email has continued its seemingly unstoppable growth, with December's levels showing yet another rise

Spam continues to make computer users lives more stressful - clogging up even more inboxes in December than ever before.

According to anti-spam firm Brightmail the amount of spam being sent worldwide is still increasing month-on-month, with December showing a 7 percent increase over November's levels.

In terms of its share of total email traffic, spam broke through the 40 per cent barrier for the first time -- meaning a staggering four in every 10 emails sent is unsolicited. This time last year spam accounted for only 8 percent of all email traffic.

These unprecedented levels of spam are also starting to take their toll on computer users' patience. Something which was a mild irritant 12 months ago is now becoming a plague for many who rely upon email on a day-to-day basis.

A report from Brightmail reveals that 80 percent of all of Internet users it surveyed claim to be 'very annoyed' by spam emails -- up from 49 percent in a similar survey conducted in mid-2000.

Unsurprisingly, 'adult' spam is driving much of the growth -- accounting for a greater share of the 'market' with every month. In December adult spam -- such as teasers for porn sites or offers of trial subscriptions to 'XXX' services -- accounted for 16 percent of all unsolicited mail.

December saw financial services (26 percent of all unsolicited email) -- with subject lines such as 'Consolidate your debts now' or 'Your mortgage has been approved' -- toppled as the biggest source of spam, with product promotions (31 percent) now the most prolific irritant.

Scams, such as the notorious Nigerian money scams, accounted for 6 percent of all spam.

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