reports USA Today. Approximately 10.8 trillion spam messages will have crossed through inboxes in the past year, compared to 10.5 trillion legitimate person-to-person email messages. The numbers indicate that spam is a growing problem, despite the promise of better filtering technology.Reasearchers at IDC predict that this year the number of spam messages sent will eclipse the amount of legit email correspondence for the first time ever,
"Two years from now, spam will be solved," said Bill Gates in 2004 addressing World Economic Forum in Switzerland. But 2007 will go down as the worst year yet for spam, a trend that has held for the past four years, according to Rebecca Steinberg Herson, vice president of marketing at Commtouch, an email security firm.
In an interview last month with USA Today, Gates reminded that though the volume of spam has increased, more of it is being deleted by spam filters. "Sure, there's a lot [of spam] out there, but software is deleting 99.9% of that anyway," he said, though Microsoft has revised that claim to 85% - 95%.
Gates does have a point -- spam filters are getting better. For example, last January, 50% of all spam was image based, but due to better filtering technology, Symantec now says that the percentage of image spam has dropped to just 8%. These quick advances in spam-fighting technologies force spammers to constantly change and update their methods. Eventually, researchers believe that better filters will begin to reduce spam from a colossal pain to a minor annoyance.
"As more people have inboxes protected by better and better spam filters, their experience of spam gets closer to Gates' vision," Richi Jennings, lead analyst at email security at Ferris Research, told USA Today. "He was a bit overaggressive with the prediction, of course. But spam isn't an easy problem to solve."