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Vioxx Offers Topple Porn for Spam Crown

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Is pornography actually taking a back seat online?

Seems so... at least when it comes to spam. America Online's secondannual list of Top 10 Spam Topics puts Vioxx and dubious mortgage dealsahead of porn for 2004. Phishing scams also topped the 2004 spam charts.

Formerly frequently seen spam terms, like 'Oprah', 'Teens', and 'Viagra,are on the outs, according to the AOL report of the most widely sent junkemail subject lines for the past 12 months. The Top 10 list is based onspam reports forwarded to AOL's spam team by members.

But pornography isn't gone. Actually, the fourth most frequently seenspam this past year was 'Steamy Hot Lesbian Action'. However, spamfilters are doing a better job at keeping these kinds of emails out ofinboxes.

Pitches for Vioxx made up the top spam subject line of the year, withdifferent phishing scams coming in second and third. Porn, as notedabove, took the fourth spot, and online medications grabbed fifth.

AOL analysts report that the 'flavor' of spam changed dramatically from2003 to 2004.

The most noticeable change was in the rise of phishing or identity theftscams, according to the report. These schemes included information theft,those citing inheritances to be collected, and the infamous 'Nigerian'scam.

The second big change came in the decline of image-based spam and areturn to more pure text messages, especially when related topornography. And spam this past year was more apt to simply contain a URLaddress or hyperlink, and nothing else.

But the AOL report also notes that the type of spam wasn't the only thingto change. The type of spammer sending the junk email also changed.

AOL contends that spammers have undergone a 'virtual makeover', becomingmore 'sophisticated, nefarious, shadowy... malicious and, unfortunately,dedicated'. Small-time spammers have gone the way of basic dial-upconnections and major spamming kingpins have taken over.

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