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Drugs, smut and viruses on the curriculum

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Figures released this week indicate that UK schoolkids receive more spam than actual email, with three quarters of messages arriving in inboxes coming from junk mailers.

Just like the rest of the world, then. Also just like the rest of the world, most of the spam is trying to sell Viagra or Valium, pornography or suspiciously cheap software.

Security firm Email Systems is newly responsible for filtering email sent to addresses across the London Grid for Learning. In the first week, it found that on average 75 per cent of mail was junk, rising to 95 per cent at peak times. Of these junk messages, half are pushing drugs, a fifth promote porn and another fifth promote cheap software. The rest of the messages are touting various services from mortgages to cheap credit cards.

The figures also showed that over three per cent of the mail was virus or Trojan ridden.

Neil Hammerton, MD of Email Systems said that the increase in drug related spam is "extremely concerning, particularly where the recipient is either a child or a potentially inquisitive teenager".

There is no suggestion that kids are deliberately being targeted: after all this is spam. The notion that spammers think about who might receive a particular email is laughable. (A quick survey of spam messages reaching this reporter's inbox revealed several opportunities to become more of a man, and a chance to go on a hot date with a lady called Cindy.)

However, the London Grid for Learning is supposed to be an educational resource: 2600 schools in the capital have connected to the network to gain access to e-learning materials. The sheer volume of spam being sent across the network will severely restrict the service these schools are able to offer their students. ®

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