E-mail onslaught to feed anti-spam firms

Spam may be a costly and seemingly unstoppable nuisance, but the trend offers an opportunity for companies developing technology to fight it, according to a new report.

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Spam may be a costly and seemingly unstoppable nuisance, but the trend offers an opportunity for companies developing technology to fight it, according to a new report from market research firm IDC.

The report, released Thursday, predicts that a growing glut of spam will help propel the worldwide daily volume of e-mail from 31 billion messages this year to 60 billion in 2006.

The report comes as legislators are passing new rules aimed at limiting spam and victims are increasingly turning to the courts to fight back against spammers. America Online, for instance, won an injunction and a monetary settlement against a purveyor of pornographic e-mail.

But the real battle over spam will likely take place at the technology level.

Products targeting corporate users, such as blacklists and rules-based filters, are already in high demand. Consumer products such as SpamKiller, SpamAssassin, MailWasher and SpamNet have also proliferated in recent months, offering a variety of methods that aim to keep in-boxes free of unwanted messages.

Despite the best efforts of the Net community to combat spam, the open architecture of the Net and ever-changing tactics by spammers promise to keep anti-spam providers in business for years to come, according to IDC analyst Robert Mahowald.

"As (anti-spam technologies) have gotten more sophisticated, spammers have gotten sophisticated," he said.

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