A third of computer users have admitted to responding to spam email messages, according to a new report.

Whilst the majority of users claimed to have responded to junk email advertisements by accident or through curiosity, a surprising 12% of the 800 “ordinary computer users” surveyed admitted to responding to an email because they were genuinely interested in the product or service being advertised.

The survey by the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group (MAAWG), also found that four in five consumers did not believe it was likely that their PC’s could become infected with malware as a result of responding to spam emails, despite growing exposure over the problem.

Half of those surveyed claimed that they have never clicked on suspected spam although around one in five (21 per cent) admitted that they did not have any email filtering software or services.

The problems of malware distribution through spam has seen increased exposure in recent months, with spammers seeking to use social media platforms as opposed to email in an attempt to avoid anti-spam filters found in many antivirus software packages.

David Ferris, an analyst at Ferris Research, commented: “According to the MAAWG findings, about one in six people are prepared to make an effort to report spam and the industry should find more ways to tap into this potential. Conversely, the volume of people who still respond to spam is regrettable, because it’s an economic incentive to spammers.”

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