Sex, Drugs and Software Lead Spam Purchase Growth
Twenty-nine percent of Internet users have purchased goods from spam e-mails, according to recently released research by Hampshire, England-based Internet security company Marshal.
The most commonly purchased items include sexual enhancement pills and other adult material, pirated software, knock-off watches, counterfeit jewelry, and clothing, according to Marshal's mid-year Internet security report.
Marshal's research results were derived from a survey hosted on Marshal's Web site in June and July. Respondents were asked to select the types of products they had purchased via spam e-mail campaigns from a list of the most commonly spammed products.
Marshal's survey attracted 622 responses with 29.1 percent indicating that they had made purchases. The poll showed the proportion of purchases from spam offers had risen when compared to a similar Forrester Research poll from 2004, which surveyed 6,000 active Web users and reported 20 percent had made purchases from spam offers.
The research also indicated that the number of respondents who admitted to making a purchase through spam have made multiple purchases. In fact, on average, more than two different types of purchases were made per person, according to the survey.
The survey also indicated that global spam volume doubled for the fiscal year ending June 2008.
Despite perceived low response rates, spammers have made substantial profits and continue to exponentially increase the volume of spam e-mails they send, according to Marshal.
This increase has largely been made possible by the advent of botnets, which are networks comprised of thousands of infected personal computers, controlled remotely by criminals.
They've enabled spammers to push down their costs through economies of scale and eliminated the need for spammers to host their own spam servers as they simply take control of other people's computers instead, the Marshal report says.
The criminal syndicates operating the major botnets are well financed, highly organized and dominate the market. Marshal's research indicates that just five botnets account for 80 percent of the world's spam.