The results of a newly released international consumer survey commissioned by Cloudmark, Inc. and conducted online by Harris Interactive' show that 42 percent of e-mail users in the U.S. have seen an increase in spam messages over the past year, and are most fearful that spam will lead to viruses and identity theft. The survey, which polled more than 6,500 online adults in the U.S., France, Germany, Great Britain and China, sought to gauge the sentiment and habits of global e-mail users regarding spam.
Many adults reported that they have responded to spam messages and received a higher volume of spam or a virus as a result. Social networking spam was also shown to be a common form of unsolicited messages received by e-mail users. The survey also revealed differences in how consumers from the U.S., Europe and China perceived difficulties in identifying spam messages, and the steps they are taking to protect themselves.
Users report they are receiving more spam over the past year
42 percent of U.S. adults reported that they received more spam over the last 12 months. Meanwhile, 44 percent of European adults and 56 percent of Chinese adults reported that they received more spam over the same time period.
40 percent of U.S. adults who have ever received a spam e-mail reported that they have received spam e-mail related to social networks in some way over the past 12 months. By comparison, of those adults who have received spam e-mail, 35 percent of European adults, and 74 percent of Chinese adults reported having received social networking spam.
35 percent of U.S. adults who have ever received a spam e-mail reported that it is becoming more difficult to distinguish spam from legitimate e-mail and 44 percent of their European counterparts reported this issue. Chinese adults who have ever received spam e-mail are much more likely to say they feel this way (74 percent).
Viruses, identity theft and disruption of legitimate e-mail use top the list of spam-related fears
Users were most fearful that spam could cause their computer to develop viruses (74 percent of U.S. adults; 69 percent of European; 69 percent of Chinese).
Identity theft was the second biggest fear reported by U.S. and European adults (56 and 51 percent respectively), and it ranked third among Chinese adults, with 46 percent.
The second biggest fear of Chinese adults (62 percent) was that spam would impair their ability to send or receive legitimate e-mail, which ranked third among U.S. and European adults, with 40 and 36 percent respectively.
Many users are responding to spam, and facing the consequences of doing so
More than a third (38 percent) of U.S. adults, 30 percent of European adults and 43 percent of Chinese adults who have ever received spam e-mail reported that they have responded to spam messages.
Of those who had responded to spam, more than half of U.S. and European users (55 percent and 54 percent) and more than two thirds of Chinese users (69 percent) reported that something happened as a result, with receiving more spam and contracting a computer virus as the most common responses.
Users employing spam protection and evasion tactics
Forty-three percent of U.S. users, 48 percent of European users and 79 percent of users in China reported that they have created e-mail accounts specifically for activities they feel may attract spam.
The majority of U.S. and European adults (68 and 60 percent) reported that they have some form of anti-spam protection on the computer they use most often to check e-mail. Meanwhile, only 36 percent of Chinese adults reported having anti-spam protection on the computers where they check e-mail most frequently.
In the U.S. and Europe, the majority of users (65 and 69 percent respectively) felt that not receiving an e-mail from a legitimate sender was worse than receiving a spam message. Fifty-four percent of users in China felt that receiving a spam message was worse.
“This survey demonstrates that there is still much work to be done to protect consumers from spam and the threats that it brings with it,” said Leon Rishniw, senior vice president of engineering for Cloudmark. “Not only must users adopt the necessary technologies to fortify their defenses against e-mail threats, they also must be more vigilant about opening and responding to messages only from known senders. Cloudmark is committed to ensuring that every e-mail user worldwide is provided with the highest levels of protection, both from their service providers and for their desktop PCs.”
For a full copy of the survey results and methodology, please visit: http://www.cloudmark.com/en/survey-results/2010-08-02.
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