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Spam by the Numbers

While a picture may be worth a thousand words, a collection of numbers can also paint a very revealing picture. This particular collection of numbers, from the summer of 2003, reveals the depth and breadth of the spam problem at that point and earlier (the numbers quoted include percentages, ratios, fractions, and amounts (unless otherwise noted, all dollar amounts quoted are U.S. dollars).

8,900,000,000

The amount, in U.S. dollars, that unwanted commercial email cost U.S. corporations in 2002 (Ferris Research).

45

Percentage of all email messages that will be spam in 2003 (Radicati Group, "Anti-Virus, Anti-Spam and Content Filtering Market Trends, 2003-2007," February, 2003).

650,000

Number of messages that a spammer can send every hour from an inexpensive email server (Detroit Free Press, December, 2002).

190

Number of email servers operated by "millionaire spam king" Alan Ralsky (Detroit Free Press, December, 2002).

70

Percentage of all email messages that will be spam by 2007 (based on the assumption that no significant changes are made to the way email works-Radicati Group, February, 2003).

22

Average number of unwanted emails blocked per AOL account each day (AOL Web Site, February, 2003).

70

Percentage of today's spam that is illegal under one or more current laws in the United States (according to studies quoted by the Federal Trade Commission, February, 2003).

87

Percentage of U.S. consumers who believe the sale of email and telemarketing lists without permission is a serious privacy violation (consisting of 31% of respondents who agreed, and 56% who strongly agreed-Harris Poll, 2002).

780,000,000

Number of spam emails that AOL blocks from member mailboxes every day (AOL press release, February, 2003).

2

Number of times that per employee "email hygiene" spending will double between 2002 and 2007 (Meta Group, December 2002).

88

Percentage of email users in favor of legislation to strengthen restrictions on spam (according to survey firm Public Opinion Strategies, February, 2003).

68

Percentage of email users who think legislation alone will not solve the spam problem (Public Opinion Strategies survey cited above).

184.1 million

Worldwide revenues, in U.S. dollars, for email scanning software in 2001 (International Data Corporation, June 2002).

662.3 million

Worldwide revenues, in U.S. dollars, for email scanning software projected in 2006 (International Data Corporation, June 2002).

18

Percentage by which total spam volume is growing every month (various independent sources analyzed by ePrivacy Group, February, 2003).

8

Percentage of all email Messages that are spam, as determined by Brightmail (December, 2001).

40

Percentage of all email Messages that are spam, as determined by Brightmail, one of the leading spam filtering companies (December, 2002).

7

Number of millions of dollars awarded to AOL in a court judgment against a "spam ring" that targeted AOL members with junk e-mail touting adult Web sites (December, 2002).

30 million

Amount that Arizona Attorney General Janet Napolitano seized in luxury homes, cars, cash, jewelry, and numerous bank accounts throughout Arizona from individuals operating a penile enlargement spam operation (Attorney General's web site, May, 2002).

9/10

Number of Americans (out of 10) who use e-mail at work and support legislation that would require warning labels on sexually explicit or pornographic spam and establish criminal penalties for spam that contains misleading information about the identity of the sender (Public Opinion Strategies, February, 2003).

100

Percentage by which spam filtering company Brightmail expects revenues to increase between 2002 and 2003.

95

Percentage of 1,065 IT professionals surveyed by SurfControl who support new anti-spam legislation.

74

Percentage if adult Internet users surveyed in a Harris Poll who said they favor "making mass spamming illegal" (based on 2,221 respondents, December, 2002).

49

Percentage of Harris Poll respondents who said they considered spam "very annoying" in Summer of 2000.

80

Percentage of Harris Poll respondents who said they considered spam "very annoying" in Fall of 2002

2

Factor by which spam filtering company Brightmail's revenues increased between 2001 and 2002 (based on public statements by Brightmail CEO).

67

Percentage of U.S. Internet users who feel that a lack of control over who gets their hands on personal information contributes to concerns about online privacy (Hanrick Associates, May 2001).

30

Percentage of all email that was spam in 2002 according to U.K. spam filtering company MessageLabs.

254

The number of emails consumers get, per week, on average (DoubleClick, December, 2002).

2,000,000,000

The amount, in U.S. dollars, that the Nigerian advance fee, or 419, scam is expected to gross in 2003, according to MessageLabs (making it that country's second-largest industry).

90

Percentage of U.S. email users who cited spam as their primary concern about email, ahead of: frequency of permission-based email at 28%, and volume of personal email from friends and colleagues at 11% (DoubleClick, Beyond Interactive, Greenfield Online, October 2002).

470

The amount, in U.K. pounds, that spam costs U.K. businesses per employee per year in wasted time, according to MessageLabs (over $750 U.S. dollars).

434

The amount, in U.K. pounds, that absenteeism costs U.K. businesses per employee per year in wasted time, according to Confederation of British Industry (under $700 U.S. dollars).

78

Percentage of U.S. managers who think spam is or will be a major

Problem in 2002 & 2003 (MessageLabs, July 2002)

50

Percentage of U.S. consumers who feel ISPs are best positioned to address spam concerns, versus: Federal government 11%, Commercial marketers 10%, Consumers 8% (NFO WorldGroup for Return Path and the Global Name Registry, October 2002)

50

Percentage of all email that will be spam by July, 2003 according to U.K. spam filtering company MessageLabs.

89

Percentage of sites on the World Wide Web that collect email addresses (Progress & Freedom Foundation, March, 2002).

2,000,000,000

Estimated annual global revenues generated by pornography spam in U.K. pounds ($3.2 billion U.S. dollars- Sunday Herald, Oct, 2002).

2.6

Forecasted profits for 2006, in billions of U.K. pounds, from pornographic spam sent to mobile phones ($4.1 billion U.S. dollars-Visiongains, October, 2002).

450

Percentage growth rate of spam during 2002, as measured by spamtraps at Declude, an email filtering company (list posting, January, 2003).

25

Messages per minute blocked by Brightmail spam filters at, a regional ISP in December, 2001 (Hiwaay.net, the largest ISP in Alabama).

225

Messages per minute blocked by spam filters at Hiwaay.net, a regional ISP in the U.S. in December, 2002.

20

Percentage month-on-month increase in spam blocked at a Hiwaay.net, a regional ISP in the U.S  during 2002.

71.3

Percentage of U.S. Internet users Level of Concern Regarding Online

Privacy, 2000 & 2001 (as a % of respondents) UCLA Center for Communication Policy, November 2001

4

Number of people, out of 100, who don't find spam annoying (Harris Poll, December, 2002).

24,500,000,000

Value of online sales in the U.S. that could be lost in the in 2006 due to a lack of privacy and security enhancements (Jupiter Media Metrix, June 2002).

68

Percentage of Internet users in the U.S. who consider spam an abuse of privacy (eMarketer, February, 2003).

52

Percentage improvement in click-through rate per delivered email for messages containing a Trusted Sender trust stamp, compared to same message without a stamp (Field test of messages to 40,000 customers by large consumer company, first quarter, 2003).

23

Percentage improvement in open rate for Trusted Sender messages compared to ordinary messages (Field test cited above).

61

Percentage reduction in opt-out rate per delivered email for Trusted Sender messages (Field test cited above).

81

Percentage of survey respondents who said that use of the Trusted Sender seal would definitely or somewhat increase their ability to differentiate legitimate Consumer Company email from spam (Field test cited above).

79

Percentage of survey respondents who said that use of the Trusted Sender seal would definitely or somewhat increase their comfort-level that emails from Consumer Company are truly from Consumer Company. (Field test cited above).

76

Percentage of survey respondents who said that use of the Trusted Sender seal would definitely or somewhat increase their level of trust that Consumer Company respects their communication preferences. (Field test cited above).

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Updated January, 2005, by webbloke at cobbsblog.com © Stephen Cobb, 1996-2005
Some article content reprinted by permission. copyright named author(s).