'Adult' spam hits all-time low

"Offensive" or "inappropriate" spam has been steadily declining, and in February only constituted 3 percent of junk mail, Symantec says.

There's still plenty of spam going around, but "adult" spam has been on a steady decline and hit an all-time low in February, according to a new Symantec report.

Of all the spam filtered by Symantec's e-mail security tools in February, only 3 percent could be classified as adult spam, the company said Tuesday. Adult spam, according to Symantec, contains or refers to "products or services intended for persons above the age of 18" and is "often offensive or inappropriate. Examples: porn, personal ads, relationship advice."

The top spam categories are health care or other general product ads, which combined account for 48 percent of all junk e-mail, Symantec said. Other top spam categories include advertisements for financial services (21 percent) and Internet services (15 percent), according to the Symantec report. Of all junk messages, 8 percent was fraudulent or part of a scam such as phishing, it said.

Spammers continue to tweak their approaches to get past filters. Symantec noted in its study that image spam now includes "slanted text," which refers to an image with embedded spam text rather than plain text in the e-mail. "This technique may decrease the detection capabilities," Symantec said.

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