The United States may not have to look past its own backyard to enforce the Anti-Spam bill the president is expected to sign by 2004. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) 2003 e-commerce and development report identifies the U.S. as the top perpetrator, responsible for more than half of the spam received in the world.

The majority of spam victims are in the U.S. as well, the report finds, and David Schatsky, senior vice president of research, Jupiter Research (a unit of this site's corporate parent) says simply, "That's where the money is." Schatsky explains that the U.S. is the largest marketplace in the world, making it an attractive target.

"According to Jupiter forecast models, by the end of 2003 some 67.6 million households across all of Western Europe will be online, 42 percent of the total. In the U.S., meanwhile, 71.5 million will be online, 66 percent of all U.S. households. The difference is even more dramatic when you look at online spending. European online retail spending will total 19.4 billion euros this year, while it will reach $51.7B in the U.S.," Schatsky continued

Besides annoying Internet users, the UNCTAD cites a MessageLabs estimate that unwanted e-mail cost enterprises worldwide roughly $20.5 billion.

At an average 226 of unwanted messages per inbox, Russell Research's survey of more than 1,200 U.S. adults showed overwhelming support for a national "Do Not Spam" registry, but only 19 percent thought it would be extremely or very effective. The majority (46 percent) thought the registry would be somewhat effective.

Already accounting for more than half of global e-mail, Corvigo expects unwanted messages to further increase by 64 percent going into the close of 2003.

"It's the holiday season and spammers are trying to make a buck anyway they can," said Jeff Ready, CEO of Corvigo. "Unfortunately, consumers can expect this volume to continue to increase throughout December and taper off only slightly in January."

Clearswift found that the seasonal increase is related to the financial burden of holiday parties and gift-giving, when spammers are tempting e-mail users with cheap loans to see them through to the New Year.

Furthermore, Clearswift warns e-mail users that spam can be dangerous: "Spam is evolving from purely unsolicited mail to sell products and services to a tool used by virus and malicious code writers as a new way to spread chaos," says Pete Simpson, Clearswift's ThreatLab manager. "With ever more ingenious rouses being used, and SoBig G expected any day, organizations need to be prepared."

The UNCTAD study took a close look at the year's malicious incidents and found that the U.S. suffered the most digital attacks in 2002, while also topping the list of originators that year. In 2002, The U.S. suffered nearly 4.5 times more attacks than the next closest victim, Brazil. mi2g named Brazil as the leader of worldwide hacker attacks during 2003.

Spam Origins, March 2003
United States 58.4%
China 5.6%
United Kingdom 5.2%
Brazil 4.9%
Canada 4.1%
Others 21.8%
Source: UNCTAD
Costs Imposed by Spam on Enterprises
IT resources
(wasted bandwidth, traffic slowdowns,
disruption of service)
Lost user productivity 39%
Maintaining helpdesks 17%
Source: Ferris Research