Up to 90 percent of all e-mails will be spam by the end of this year, according to a security vendor.

"About 85 percent of e-mails received are now spam and this will go up to at least 90 percent by the end of the year if levels don't change," said Bradley Anstis, director of product management at security company Marshal of Basingstoke, UK, whose Threat Research and Content Engineering (TRACE) team has detected a 30 percent increase in spam in the past week, based on traffic monitored from spots in 18 countries. The group adds that spam has increased a whopping 280 percent since last October.

"Spam coming out of China and South Korea has massively increased mainly because of out-of-control botnets running off unprotected home computers," he said, adding that many governments and users from these areas are ignorant of the need for anti-malware products, which could restrict these botnets.

"There is very little knowledge of the importance of malware protection and the lack of legislation means malware writers have a good chance of getting away with it. Singapore has toughened up on legislation and we have seen a drop in spam from there as a result," he said.

Anstis said the solution relies on government supporting ISPs to implement content filtering and to force users to install malware protection. A national spam filtering program would end spam, according to Joel Camissar, country manager for Australia and New Zealand at Websense, and a member of the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG).
"Spam would be all but eradicated if ISPs banded together to filter incoming mail, since there are only about eight or nine pipes connecting local ISPs to the rest of the world," Camissar said, recognizing that this carries a host of privacy issues.

Still, the bulk (75 percent) of phishing e-mails are targeting eBay and its payment subsidiary Paypal users according to research conducted by Sophos last year.