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Spam to AOL accounts down 75%

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The amount of spam reaching AOL customer in-boxes in 2005, as measured by member complaints, marked a 75% decline from a peak level in late 2003, the company said.

Still, spammers are becoming ever more sophisticated and devious. According to AOL’s analysis of hundreds of billions of attempted spam messages targeting customers in 2005, spammers are using more so-called “special order” subject lines rather than generic ones. Six of the top 10 subject lines this year fall into this category, compared with just two of 10 in 2004 and none in 2003. AOL’s 3rd Annual Top 10 Spam List, which the company released last week, said SOS, or “special order spam,” attempts to trick users by masquerading as a message from a friend or as a legitimate, customer-driven transaction.

“In 2005, spammers—and their tactics—became more sinister, organized and sophisticated,” said Charles Stiles, postmaster in AOL’s 24/7/365 spam fighting unit, in a statement. “What we’re seeing is that spammers are far more organized and professional than ever before. Spam gangs on the Internet engaging in ‘hit-and-run’ spam attacks in 2004 have turned into a tightly knit, controlled, Web-based spam mafia coordinating sustained attacks on netizens in 2005.”

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