Study: Users assailed with war-related spam

War-time opportunists have taken to the internet, firing off rounds of spam selling items such as American flags, T-shirts and gas masks, in an offensive that is filling user inboxes, a new study says.

          War-time opportunists have taken to the internet, firing off rounds of spam selling items such as American flags, T-shirts and gas masks, in an offensive that is filling user inboxes, a new study says.

          War-related spam accounted for nearly 10% of all spam reviewed by email filter company SurfControl by the end of March, compared to the handful of war spam it collected at the beginning of the month.

          SurfControl reviews 40,000 to 50,000 spam messages a month, says Susan Getgood, the company's senior vice president of marketing. Previously, spam touting dubious Nigerian business offers and mortgage rates were en vogue, according to Getgood.

          The new wartime messages underscore spammers ability to quickly shift gears and grab onto the latest news hook to sell their wares.

          "The use of email and spam just makes the turnaround faster ... and spammers reach a broader audience," Getgood says.

          Of the war-related spam, the most frequent in March were mails peddling "American Car Flags to Support Our Troops," "Take 4 History Books for $1 Each," and "Defenders of Freedom US Coins," according to SurfControl. Other spam advertised T-shirts, lapel pins, water filtration systems and Israeli gas masks.

          The different types of war-related spam are not coming from just one source, the email filtering company adds, noting that there were 216 variations on the gas mask spam counted in March.

          The company continues to see the same level of war-related spam in the beginning of April, but the focus has changed from items like gas masks to T-shirts, Getgood said.

          In recent months, spam has become internet users' enemy number-one, experts say, as they have increasingly found their inboxes inundated with unsolicited commercial email.

          "What you have to remember as a consumer or business is that spam content may change a little but it will continue to provide commercial offers to people who didn't ask for them," Getgood says.

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