Everyone asks, who would be so reckless as to click on this junk? but almost a
third of consumers admitted to responding to a message they suspected might be
spam, according to a survey released today by the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working
Group (MAAWG). Also alarming, about 80 percent of users doubted their computers
were at risk of ever being infected with a bot, which is a covertly planted
virus capable of sending spam or causing other damage without the owner’s

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The results indicate a lack of awareness among consumers since industry reports
indicate bots are responsible for generating much of today’s illegitimate
email. MAAWG commissioned the study, A Look at Consumers’ Awareness of
Email Security and Practices, to gauge users’ understanding of messaging
threats and to identify how best to work with users in removing bots and viruses
from infected systems. The report is based on 800 interviews with computer users
in the United States and Canada who said they were not security experts and who
used email addresses that were not managed by a professional IT department.

The survey data creates a picture of users familiar with general email-based
threats but not necessarily as alert or cautious as they should be to
proactively protect themselves against spam, online fraud and other
email-related hazards. There also is no general consensus among consumers as to
how network operators and industry vendors should interact with customers when
addressing these issues.

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. Consumers shouldn’t be afraid to use email,
but they need to be computer smart and learn how to avoid these problems, said
MAAWG Chair Michael O’Reirdan.

About two-thirds of the consumers surveyed considered themselves very or
somewhat knowledgeable in Internet security. While most consumers use anti-virus
software and over half said they never click on suspected spam, the survey also
found that 21 percent take no action to prevent abusive messages from entering
their inbox. A majority of consumers, 63 percent, would allow their network
operator or anti-virus vendor to remotely access their computer to remove
detected bots.

Offers a Framework for Working with Subscribers

Ferris Research, Inc., an industry analysis firm that tracks messaging issues,
provided additional recommendations in the report for service providers and
vendors based on the survey findings. Among their suggestions is that network
operators and vendors consider offering remote bot mitigation capabilities to
differentiate their services from competitors. Vendors also might consider
refining spam filters based on the specific patterns defined in the study.

For example, the MAAWG survey found that users between the ages of 24 and 44
are more likely to use email for banking and bill statements, so industry
vendors might focus on preventing phishing spam for these consumers.

Ferris Research Principal David Ferris said, According to the MAAWG findings,
about one in six people are prepared to make an effort to report spam and the
industry should find more ways to tap into this potential. Conversely, the
volume of people who still respond to spam is regrettable because it’s an
economic incentive to spammers, he said.

This is the first consumer survey commissioned by MAAWG, which is the largest
global trade association tackling messaging abuse. Bots are one of the fastest
growing email security issues.

The complete 60-page survey report, A Look at Consumers’ Awareness of
Email Security and Practices or ’Of Course I Never Reply to Spam, Except
Sometimes’ includes graphs, detailed findings and analysis. It is
available today at no cost on the MAAWG Web site,

About the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group (MAAWG)

The Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group (MAAWG) is where the messaging industry
comes together to work against spam, viruses, denial-of-service attacks and
other online exploitation. MAAWG ( represents almost one billion
mailboxes from some of the largest network operators worldwide. It is the only
organization addressing messaging abuse holistically by systematically engaging
all aspects of the problem, including technology, industry collaboration and
public policy. MAAWG leverages the depth and experience of its global membership
to tackle abuse on existing networks and new emerging services. Headquartered in
San Francisco, Calif., MAAWG is an open forum driven by market needs and
supported by major network operators and messaging providers.

Media Contact: Linda Marcus, APR, +1-714-974-6356,, Astra

MAAWG Board of Directors: AOL; ATT (NYSE: T); Cloudmark, Inc.; Comcast (Nasdaq:
CMCSA); Cox Communications; France Telecom (NYSE and Euronext: FTE); Goodmail
Systems; Openwave Systems (Nasdaq: OPWV); Time Warner Cable; Verizon
Communications; and Yahoo! Inc.

MAAWG Full Members: 11 Internet AG; Bizanga LTD; Constant Contact; e-Dialog;
Eloqua Corporation; Experian CheetahMail;; Internet Initiative Japan,
(IIJ Nasdaq: IIJI); IronPort Systems; McAfee Inc.; MX Logic; NeuStar, Inc.;
Outblaze LTD; Return Path, Inc.; Spamhaus; Sprint; and Symantec

A complete member list is available at

SOURCE: Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group (MAAWG)

Linda Marcus, APR of Astra Communications for The Messaging Anti-Abuse Working
Group, +1-714-974-6356, Logo: