Most people may think they're smart enough not to answer an obvious spam message. But is that really the case?
Almost one third of consumers questioned admitted answering e-mails
they suspected were spam, says a survey released Wednesday by the
Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group (MAAWG).
Among those who responded to spam, 17 percent said they clicked on
it by mistake, 13 percent said they sent a note to the spammer to
complain, while 12 percent said they were interested in the product or
The MAAWG's survey study, "A Look at Consumers' Awareness of Email
Security and Practices," also discovered that about two-thirds of the
people considered themselves "very" or "somewhat" knowledgeable about
Internet security. Most of them use antivirus software, but 21 percent
said they take no action to prevent spam or dangerous e-mail from
hitting their in-box.
Further, the survey found that 80 percent of users questioned
doubted their computers were ever at risk of being infected with a
"bot" that can send spam and create other problems without the user
"Spamming has morphed from an isolated hacker playing with some code
into a well-developed underground economy that feeds off reputable
users' machines to avoid detection," says MAAWG Chair Michael
O'Reirdan. "Consumers shouldn't be afraid to use e-mail, but they need
to be computer smart and learn how to avoid these problems."
The study was based on phone and online interviews conducted in
December and January with 800 computer users in the U.S. and Canada who
said they were not "security experts" and who used e-mail addresses not
managed by an IT department.
The Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group is a global organization
comprising ISPs, network operators, and other tech companies. The
group's goal is to reduce the abuse and threats affecting electronic
mail by focusing on technology, industry collaboration, and public