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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 August, 2004, 07:54 GMT 08:54 UK
Pupils bear spam e-mail overload
Children in computer class
More than a million children are on the London network
The majority of e-mail messages being sent to school children in London are spam.

The first week of a project to filter the e-mails travelling across the London Grid for Learning has revealed that 75% of the messages are junk.

The most popular subjects for the spam were the drugs Viagra and Valium. Much of the remaining mail was pornographic.

The network provides more than a million school children access to net-based learning aids.

Drugs and porn

The London Grid for Learning was launched in June 2000 to provide high-speed net access, online content and services to schools.

It serves a population of 2,600 London schools which involves more than 65,000 teachers and 1.1 million pupils. By 2006 it aims to offer all schools in its catchment area net links running at speeds of 2Mbps.

Screengrab of spam in e-mail inbox, BBC
50% - drug related
20% - pornography
20% - software
10% - cheap mortgages
The network had anti-spam software in place before now but the system had been updated to cope with the changing nature of spam and the growing volume of unwanted mail.

Statistics gathered during the first seven days that the new system was operating show how prevalent junk mail has become.

At peak times 95% of the messages scanned by the filtering system were junk. The average for the week was 75%.

About half of the stopped e-mail messages were offering drugs to school children.

"The move towards more drug-related spam is extremely concerning, particularly where the recipient is either a child or a potentially inquisitive teenager," said Neil Hammerton, managing director of spam filtering firm Email Systems.

A small proportion of the messages, 3.4%, had a virus or Trojan onboard.

On 3 August the number of messages infected by viruses rose to 80% following an outbreak by variants of the Netsky, MyDoom and Bagle viruses.

Although London's schoolchildren are on holiday at the moment, the London Grid for Learning is still helping teachers, administrators and other staff prepare for the new school year.

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