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Study: Users assailed with war-related spam

By Scarlet Pruitt, IDG News Service
April 9, 2003 12:00 PM ET

IDG News Service - Wartime opportunists have taken to the Internet, firing off rounds of spam selling items such as U.S. flags, T-shirts and gas masks in an offensive that's filling user in-boxes, according to a new study.
War-related spam accounted for nearly 10% of all unsolicited e-mail messages reviewed by Scotts Valley, Calif.-based SurfControl PLC at the end of March, compared with the handful of war spams it collected at the beginning of the month.
SurfControl reviews 40,000 to 50,000 messages per month, said Susan Getgood, the e-mail filter company's senior vice president of marketing. Previously, spam touting dubious Nigerian business offers and low mortgage rates were en vogue, according to Getgood.
The new wartime messages underscore spammers' ability to quickly shift gears and grab onto the latest news hook to sell their wares. "The use of e-mail and spam just makes the turnaround faster ... and spammers reach a broader audience," Getgood said.
Of the war-related spam, the most frequent in March were e-mails peddling "American Car Flags to Support Our Troops," "Take 4 History Books for $1 Each" and "Defenders of Freedom U.S. Coins," according to SurfControl. Other messages advertised T-shirts, lapel pins, water-filtration systems and Israeli gas masks.
The different types of war-related spam aren't coming from just one source, SurfControl said, noting that it counted 216 variations on the gas-mask spam in March.
The company continued to see the same level of war-related spam at the beginning of this month, but the focus has changed from items such as gas masks to T-shirts, Getgood said.
In recent months, spam has become Internet users' No. 1 enemy, experts said, as they have increasingly found their in-boxes inundated with unsolicited commercial e-mail. "What you have to remember as a consumer or business is that spam content may change a little, but it will continue to provide commercial offers to people who didn't ask for them," Getgood said.

Reprinted with permission from Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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