A Breakdown of Where the Spam in Your Inbox Comes From

According to Microsoft's numbers, the biggest share of spam is for drugs

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Have you checked your spam box recently? Don't bother--Microsoft already knows what's in it. The company today released a cyber-security report (PDF) that took a look at, among other things, the types of spam intercepted by its email application, Microsoft Exchange, and conveniently summarized the findings in the pie chart above, as blogged by Ars Technica. The report found that the largest portion of spam messages are, unsurprisingly, product advertisements--28 percent for pharmaceuticals (nonsexual), 3.8 percent for pharmaceuticals (sexual), and 17.2 percent for merchandise other than drugs. That classic spam message--the one where a Nigerian prince in desperate need of money asks for a wire transfer (frauds known as "419 scams")--constitute 13.2 percent of all spam emails. And of course, email spammers are always ever-helpful in lending you a hand in the bedroom: 8.6 percent of spams are sex-related, whether it be ads for Viagara and "male enhancement" drugs (3.8 percent) or for dating sites, porn, and other sexually explicit services (4.8 percent). Spam overall, though, is becoming less common: the number of spam messages has dropped precipitously over the past year. Microsoft Exchange blocked only 25 billion spam messages in June of this year, compared to 89.2 billion in July 2010. The reason: two of the largest spambots out there (called "Cutwail" and "Rustock") were taken down in the past 14 months. So don't expect to be hearing about foreign royalty's financial troubles as often anymore.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.