New Spiritual Spam Preys on the Faithful

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Spiritual salvation via spam?

Yup, you read it right. MessageLabs Inc., a managed email securitycompany based in New York, is reporting that the amount of religiousspam has jumped in the last few weeks. Spammers now are peddling sitesthat sell Bibles or offering prayers to 'save someone you love', alongwith their usual fare of mortgages, hair growth and money-makingschemes.

The threat to corporate networks and IT administrators is that theseunsolicited bulk emails are targeting a growing secular society here inthe United States, according to Paul Wood, chief information securityanalyst for MessageLabs. And for the growing number of faithful, therejust might be a lot more temptation to open a spiritually orientedemail, than to fall prey to other forms of spam.

''We've started to see an increase in religious spam, particularlyChristian-oriented spam,'' says Wood. ''There's obviously a market outthere for this type of thing. I heard on the news just today that we'rein a particular secular time, and spammers are interested in tappingthis market.''

Wood also notes that religious spam is not regulated under the nearlyyear-old CAN-Spam Act, as the legislation does not tackle unsolicitedbulk email of a religious nature.

He also adds that religious-oriented spam still makes up a smallpercentage of the overall flood of spam, but it's a trend thatMessageLabs analysts predict will continue to grow -- especially as wecome into the holiday season.

These spams vary in nature, according to Wood, and are not always tryingto sell something. While some of these spams are directing users to Websites that sell Bibles and other religious material, others start outsaying, 'Eternity is a really long time,' and then it urges users toaccept God and to say a prayer that will 'save you or someone that youlove'.

Wood says these spiritual spams can cause several issues within an ITdepartment and within the average office.

Opening and reading any spam not only slows productivity and wastestime, but it also encourages spammers to continue sending an increasingamount of bulk email, which overloads enterprise servers and floodsinboxes, which takes attention away from legitimate email.

Wood also notes that receiving religious-oriented email in the workplacemight offend some people, creating a hostile work environment.

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