Spam Under the Tree

The opening of the holiday season was accompanied by an increase in spam e-mail messages, according to figures released by spam-fighting software maker Brightmail.

The San Francisco-based company said it tracked a 21 percent increase in spam messages caught up in its filters during the month following Thanksgiving. Brightmail said it blocked more than 16 billion messages of the 40 billion it scanned during that period.

Brightmail’s Probe Network deploys over 100 million dummy e-mail accounts to smoke out spam e-mails, which it then blocks for its clients.

While the company noted an increase in spam in previous holidays, it said this year’s onslaught was worse than before, tracking the general trend most researchers have found around the holidays, as more retailers seek customers. Another e-mail protection firm, Mailwise, predicted in late November that spam would increase from 20 to 30 percent during the holidays.

Brightmail said it expects the spam level to abate somewhat after New Years, but it still forecasts an increase in spam in 2003. This year, the company anticipates spam will account for 40 percent of all e-mail traffic, a dramatic rise from the 8 percent it accounted for in 2001.

According to Jupiter Research, which is owned by the parent company of this Web site, the average e-mail user can expect to receive 3,900 unwanted e-mail messages a day by 2007.

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