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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 June, 2004, 10:00 GMT 11:00 UK
Spam is making computers sick
Screen grab of Hotmail account
Viagra offers and miracle diets crowd our inboxes
Spam overload is making computers sick and driving users mad.

Research commissioned by Yahoo finds that the average British PC has nine 'sick days' per year, two more than the average for workers.

Six of these are wasted battling with spam and three more days are lost due to viruses.

Nearly half of British computer users find dealing with junk e-mails more stressful than traffic jams and the majority want service providers to act.


[Providers] are not listening to their consumers and I can't see that changing
Martino Corbelli, SurfControl
Over half of the 2,500 people questioned by Yahoo as part of its anti-spam campaign had asked their provider to do something to stop the deluge of junk e-mails they were receiving.

Around a third of people would be prepared to make a drastic lifestyle change, such as exercising five times a week, if it meant an end to spam.

Martino Corbelli, marketing director of e-mail filtering firm SurfControl, thinks internet and e-mail providers are not fulfilling their obligations to consumers.

"They never have done much about spam and all the indications are that they are lethargic about fighting the problem," he told BBC News Online.

"They are not listening to their consumers and I can't see that changing," he added.

Mr Corbelli believes that if net service providers were to install anti-spam technology they could cut out 90% of spam.

"There is no silver bullet solution to spam. The spammers are very intelligent and use multi-faceted techniques to get to inboxes so the technology has to be multi-faceted too," he said.

Wound up

Woman frustrated with computer
Junk e-mails are driving computer users mad

Spam is not just a nuisance. So-called phishing e-mails are increasingly being used by spammers to get at people's personal details.

Mr Corbelli warns users to be wary of any e-mails asking for such details and urges consumers to keep putting pressure on ISPs to tackle spam.

The survey found that 22% of people had responded to spam, a sure fire way of getting more junk.

"That is the last thing you should do," said Professor Steven Palmer, who has been studying the effects of spam on stress.

"But people get so wound up that they want to give spammers a piece of their mind," he added.

The Yahoo survey estimates that spam is costing the UK economy 6.7 billion a year. It is estimated that around 14.5 billion spam messages are sent around the world each day.

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29 Apr 04  |  South West Wales
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01 Apr 04  |  Technology

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