Today’s Fun Factoid

According to our college’s IT director, the server that handles faculty and staff email receives between 80,000 and 100,000 incoming emails per day. Of these, only 10 to 15 percent are good emails. The remaining 85 to 90 percent, perhaps as much as 90,000 incoming emails per day, is nothing but spam. I suspect that these percentages are not unique to our institution.

So, how much are we spending to build and maintain an infrastructure that delivers mostly unwanted garbage created by assholes who don’t pay a thing for its (ab)use?

I say it’s time we put a bounty on spammers and then create a reality TV show called “Spam Hunters”.

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  1. #1 by Mark C. Chu-Carroll on March 16, 2010 - 10:38 am

    Jim:

    In fact, not only are those figures not unique, they’re rather *low*. You’re likely connected to one of the anti-spam filters that blocks incoming connections from know spam IPs. In general, most public email servers are seeing as high as 97% of all incoming email being spam.

    In my personal email account, I got around 800 legitimate emails last month, and 2,800 spam that made it past the back-end filters. (And that 800 legit emails includes all of the mail from my blog alerting me to potential spam comments!)

    The volume of spam is just astonishing. And unfortunately, there are still enough idiots out there that spamming remains an incredibly profitable business. The current system balances out so that if one out of 100,000 emails gets a response, the spammers make money. Since the actual cost of sending out 100,000 emails works out to a couple of bucks in bandwidth – assuming they even use their own bandwidth to send it! – the incentives for a low-life scum to become a spammer are incredibly strong.

  2. #2 by kemibe on March 16, 2010 - 11:46 am

    This is a worthy read:

    http://oreilly.com/catalog/9780596007324/

    The guy who wrote it lives very close to me and is a 17+ 5K type as well.

  3. #3 by Laura Atkins on March 17, 2010 - 6:22 pm

    Some of us have been fighting this spam thing since the late 90’s. It’s a never ending and somewhat depressing pursuit. Spam levels have been consistently at the 90 – 95% of traffic for the last 3 or 4 years now, and as long as there are botnets it’s not going to change.

    To my mind what is even worse that the infrastructure and time spent on blocking the mail is how much of the spam is coming from organized crime. Much of it is the Russian mob but at a recent conference one of the speakers talked about how involved the US mob was as well. There’s a huge amount of money being made by criminals using the internet.

    Every time someone comes up with another clever way to block and filter spam the criminals find another way around it. It feels like a losing battle more than it feels like a winning on. Sure, the average email recipient has less spam in their actual inbox than I did back in 1999, but the sheer volume of what’s being blocked and not making it to the inbox is overwhelming.

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