Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Diary of a deliberately spammed housewife

Article via Instapundit:
For Tracy Mooney (pictured), a married mother of three in Naperville, Ill., the decision to abandon cyber-sense and invite e-mail spam into her life for a month by participating in a McAfee experiment was a bit of a lark.

The idea of the Spammed Persistently All Month (S.P.A.M.) experiment — which fittingly started on April Fool's Day — was to have 50 volunteers from around the world answer every spam message and pop-up ad on their PC.

What would be the experience in 10 countries when everyday people, armed with a PC and e-mail account McAfee provided for the Global S.P.A.M. Diaries project, clicked through the spam and chronicled the results?

Mooney — who had observed the family's PC crippled just before Christmas by a virus — was game, especially because McAfee was giving a free PC to all participants. She was selected to be among the 50 volunteers picked by McAfee out of 2,000 people who applied to be part of the adventure.
By the time it was all over, after every bank-account phishing scam, Nigerian bank scheme, and offer for medication, adult content and just plain free stuff had been pursued. "I was horrified," says Mooney, a realtor by profession. "It's all snake oil. I'm amazed at what true junk is out there when you're clicking through on e-mail."

McAfee is releasing the results Tuesday of its free-wheeling month-long S.P.A.M. experiment, done largely to illustrate — if you didn't know already — how spam is connected to malware and criminal activity, not to mention some of the slimiest marketing ever devised. (Compare antispam products.)

Each S.P.A.M. volunteer saw an average of 70 spam messages arrive in their in-box each day, with men receiving about 15 more per day than women. That was a lot to answer, but "Penelope Retch" — the alias that Mooney chose for her S.P.A.M. adventure — answered every single message.
Read the whole thing! The results and the findings are very interesting.

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