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'I won't be in today - I got spammed last night'

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British PCs are taking an average of nine sick days a year due to spam and viral attack, Yahoo! claims. This is two more days than the typical Brit spends at home as a result of illness/injury/Euro 2004-induced hangover.

Interestingly, six of these silicon sickies are due to spam, with just three days attributable to viruses. People too are wearying of the spam tsunami, with half of UK computer users claiming that confronting junk emails is more harrowing than sitting in rush-hour traffic gridlock.

Yahoo! surveyed 2,500 punters - half of whom said they'd asked their ISP to pull the finger out in addressing the spam issue. Rather bizarrely, roughly a third would be prepared to "make a drastic lifestyle change, such as exercising five times a week, if it meant an end to spam".

As far as we are aware, this is the first time that jogging and circuit training have been mooted as a solution to spam. And speaking of making the effort, SurfControl's marketing director, Martino Corbelli, reckons that it's the ISPs who should be moving their lardy arses off the sofa: "They never have done much about spam and all the indications are that they are lethargic about fighting the problem," he told the BBC. "They are not listening to their consumers and I can't see that changing."

Yahoo!'s report has been released to coincide with 'Global Anti Spam Day' - a title which rather has the feel of a triumph of hope over expectation. The survey does, nevertheless, highlight a few stats which prove how spam will, inevitably, bring down western civilisation.

For example:

  • 2 per cent of the average worker's salary (£463 out of £20,000) is wasted on spam fighting chores
  • If Spam takes over our emails, our social lives will suffer. For most of us, email is an essential tool in organising our social diaries and staying in touch with friends and family. Two thirds of us (65 per cent) use email to plan our social lives. Over one in five (22 per cent) emails are used to set up social engagements, while one in ten (9 per cent) is to set up a date
  • 70 per cent of British PC users have fallen victim to a computer virus over the past year. Only 46 per cent are aware that computers get viruses by opening attachments, while only 17 per cent know that you can get a virus by downloading a file online
  • Over three quarters (79 per cent) of Brits delete any spam they receive, which does nothing to combat the problem. 53 per cent have notified their ISPs and expect them to take action. 16 per cent reply to junk emails, a sure fire way to get more spam. However, British PC owners are better educated than their European counterparts. In France, 25 per cent reply to spam emails

There you have it. So, while the French do their bit to accelerate our descent into socio-economic anarchy, here is UK communications minister Stephen Timms' overview: "Nobody - be it government, industry or otherwise - can work alone to eliminate the problem overnight, if we are to have an impact on reducing it, the fight against spam demands international co-operation and collaborative campaigns. Yahoo!'s Global Anti Spam Day is exactly the sort of initiative that is critical in raising awareness amongst Web users."

Fair enough. We at El Reg will move immediately to berate our ISP on the lack of tangible anti-spam action. If, that is, our entire IT infrastructure is not at home in bed having over-indulged last night on Nigerian 419 solicitations. ®

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Two thirds of emails now spam: official

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