What’s On the Other Side of Your Inbox – 20 SPAM Statistics for 2021

Spam statistics - Featured image

Did you check your spam folder lately? It’s like walking into a giant shopping mall where everyone wants you to buy their products, hire their services, or marry a Nigerian prince. Thousands upon thousands of emails, all encompassed under a common denominator. Spam. We’ve compiled 20 spam statistics to show just how big this phenomenon has become over the years.

Key spam statistics

  • Spam campaigns exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic have become rampant. The most common techique, according to Symantec, is snowshoe - using multiple IPs and domains for spam campaigns in an effort to avoid detection.
  • Nearly 85% of all emails are spam.
  • Americans admit to losing more than $70,000 to Nigerian Prince scams in 2019.
  • Scams and fraud comprise only 2.5% of all spam email; however, phishing statistics indicate that identity theft makes up 73% of this figure.
  • Email spam costs businesses $20.5 billion every year.
  • As many as 85% of all organizations have been targeted by phishing scams in 2020.
  • Microsoft accounts are the most popular targets of phishing emails, accounting for 43% of all phishing attempts
  • Fake invoice incidents more than doubled in the first part of 2020.

SPAM Statistics

1. The average number of legitimate email messages sent over the internet each day: 22.43 billion.

(Talos Intelligence)

Spam messages are clogging the internet, that much is sure. For a sense of scale, let’s pause for a moment to appreciate the number of legitimate emails that reach their destinations every day. While this figure varies from day to day and month to month, global email traffic remains one of the busiest communication channels in the world.


2. Nearly 85% of all emails are spam.

(Spamlaws)

That translates into an average daily volume of 122.33 billion messages globally. The number of daily spam messages oscillates regularly, and the latest spam traffic statistics show that it’s currently declining. Between June 2020 and January 2021, the average daily spam volume dropped from 316.39 billion to just over 122 billion.


3. Advertising makes up 36% of all world spam content.

(Spamlaws)

The most common spam emails are advertising messages. Want to buy new clothes? How about some aftershave? In some cases, these commercials do have a purpose, and with or without spam testing, many get to your inbox. Sometimes their presence can be interpreted as disrespectful and annoying, however, as people generally don’t like to see their email databases swarmed by hundreds of email messages advertising elixirs of youth and restaurant chains.


4.  Adult-related content is the second-biggest spam category, accounting for roughly 31.7% of all spam messages.

(Spamlaws)

The internet is swarming with adult content, and all phishing stats agree that is where most of its malware lurks. This is dangerous spam in its purest form. According to statistics, dating site spam is relentless and profitable for spammers.


5. 26.5% of all unwanted emails are related to financial matters, the third-biggest spam email category.

(Spamlaws)

Financial news, software commercials, and services take third place among top spammers of the world. The category makes up more than a quarter of all sent spam, so be on the lookout for bogus financial messages.


6. For every 12,500,000 emails sent, spammers receive one reply.

(TechRadar)

And that’s one too many. The logic behind every email spammer’s operation is to flood the web with countless emails. Why not? The cost of spam is basically zero. One response makes the whole campaign worthwhile.


7. Scams and fraud account for about 2.5% of all spam emails. Phishing statistics indicate that identity theft is the goal of 73% of those.

(Spamlaws)

Most spam traffic isn’t fraud. It’s mostly ads and promotions for stuff you once looked up when you were bored or clicked on accidentally while shopping for something else.

Identity theft is the most common trick in the book, and a costly one. Learn to recognize the difference between a benign commercial and bait that’s intended to lure you into a trap.


8. Spam email sites earn senders around $7,000 per day.

(GroupMail)

Bulk-mailing spam is a job for specialists – third-party companies that send emails on behalf of the product or service that is being advertised. The sender gets paid simply for sending messages, regardless of whether recipients buy any of the advertised products.


9. Email spam costs businesses a whopping $20.5 billion every year.

(Radicati Group, Nucleus Research)

This eye-catching figure from 2012 includes both the decreased productivity and the technical expenses that companies incur due to spam. According to Nucleus Research, the average loss per employee was about $1,934 per year.

Spam statistics like this one show how vast the global spam operation actually is. If it continues to grow at this rate, estimates suggest that damage might rise to a staggering $257 billion within a few years.


10. More spam emails originate from the United States than any other country.

(Talos Intelligence)

Talos Intelligence maintains a list of originating URLs and internet addresses that belong to scammers. The list helps internet service providers block spam before it gets to users. American spammers generate 8.4 billion messages a month, while Chinese spammers send out 8.2 billion spam emails.

Some of the worst spam sites emanate from China, where hackers craft some of the most prolific spambots in the world.


11. The United States is home to 7 of the world’s top 10 spammers.

(Spamhaus)

Below is a list of the most persistent spam companies in the world:

  • Blaze Media Solutions
  • PredictLabs
  • Sphere Digital
  • RR Media
  • Cyber World Internet Services
  • e-Insites
  • Kobeni Solutions

They are all based in the United States, and together they are responsible for distributing tens of millions of spam emails per day.


12. The number one spam operation is based in Ukraine.

(Spamhaus)

A fake company called Canadian Pharmacy is probably the largest spam mail operation in the world – and one of the longest-running as well. Established sometime around 2009, the company uses botnet techniques to spam the world, sending tens of millions of ads for phony pharmaceuticals every day. Although the headquarters remains a mystery, it is most likely in Ukraine.


13. 80% of all spam in North America and Europe is sent by the same 100 spam gangs.

(Spamhaus)

The spam industry is essentially unregulated. As Marx could have predicted, power is concentrated in relatively few hands as the market marches toward monopoly. According to internet spam statistics, there are approximately 100 gangs that run the business in Europe and North America. These gangs employ 200 to 300 individuals in total, and they are responsible for the bulk of the world’s spam email distribution.


14. As many as 85% of all organizations have been targeted by phishing scams in 2020.

(Proofpoint, Symantec, Kratikal)

Scams and fraud make up only 2.5% of all spam emails. However, identity theft is the goal of 73% of those emails. And only 3% of those emails are reported to the management. One of the leading cybersecurity companies in the world, Symantec, is warning that these rates are rising fast.

Despite growing awareness that spam is a serious and costly issue for businesses, many companies report falling victim to recent phishing attacks. That’s why it’s crucial that businesses be vigilant in protecting themselves against malware, spam, and known phishing lures.


15. Microsoft accounts are the most popular targets of phishing emails, accounting for 43% of all phishing attempts.

(Tessian)

There is a lingering myth about hackers preferring to target the rich and famous, leaving the rest of us safe from harm. But the stats tell a different story. According to a recent Apple email phishing report, nearly half of all phishing scams are designed to target Microsoft Outlook passwords. Spam scams are also directed toward acquiring LinkedIn (6%) and Amazon credentials (5%).


16. DHL (18%), Rakuten (4%), IKEA (3%), and Google (2%) also rank high on the list of popular email phishing targets.

(Tessian)

Spam trends reveal that scammers are interested in any password they can get their hands on. With more people ordering goods online since the start of the pandemic, spam emails are now impersonating shipping companies. Out of all couriers, DHL appeared in most phishing attacks. Surprisingly, the number of PayPal phishing attempts dropped significantly. Previously, every tenth spam message involved this payment processor, and now only 2% of the spammers try to impersonate it.

Fortune 500 companies like Chase are also popular with scammers. The company’s logo has been misused in lots of emails that are actually malware-laden malicious spam.


17. Fake invoice incidents more than doubled in the first part of 2020.

(Tessian)

Many common spam emails use fake invoices to trick victims into providing data. Between Q1 2020 and Q2 2020, we witnessed a 112% spike in the number of incidents involving payment and invoice fraud. This suggests that businesses are particularly vulnerable and lucrative targets. In a recent Microsoft survey, 62% of security professionals reported that phishing campaigns are the biggest security threat.


18. As many as 6% of spam scams use fax machines.

(Symantec)

Spam or phishing scams come in many forms. Fax machine phishing scams work on the same principle as emailed phishing attacks. While this mode of defrauding companies has existed since the heyday of fax machines in the 1990s, it remains present to this day, with a large number of successful cases. 


19. More than 99% of attacks require human interaction to succeed, resulting in malware installation, wire fraud, unwitting data disclosures, and more.

(Help Net Security, Proofpoint)

As any anti-phisher website will tell you, it takes two to tango. Although scam emails are designed to trick you into cooperating, it is still your responsibility to recognize their intent. Think twice when enabling a macro, opening a file, following a link, or opening a document. Your caution could well save you and your company a boatload of inconvenience and cost.


20. Americans lost at least $703,000 to Nigerian Prince scams in 2019.

(ADT, CNBC)

It’s the oldest trick in the book, but the Nigerian Prince scam still makes tons of money for old-fashioned scammers. The sting is quite simple: You receive an email suggesting you send money upfront, with some out-of-this-world justification that often involves a member of the fictional Nigerian royalty. According to social engineering spam email statistics, the Nigerian style emails cost their victims in the US an average of $2,133 per person affected, over the past three years. Spam trends might change, but this evergreen scam remains popular as ever on the fringes of the web.

FAQ

What percentage of email is spam?

Spam folder statistics suggest that 85% of marketing emails bypass spam filters and arrive in users’ inboxes. Although most email users prefer that mail related to advertising be sent directly to spam, the messages are generally harmless and a legitimate means of doing business.

What percentage of email traffic is spam?

Spam accounts for 85% of the total email traffic worldwide. Spam tests conducted by Talos Intelligence suggest that the number actually represents a slight decrease compared to 2020 but shows a tendency to grow even further.

How much spam is sent daily?

About 122.3 billion email spam messages get distributed each day. That’s about 85% of the world’s daily email traffic.

What companies send the most spam?

The top three companies flooding the net with marketing emails are StumbleUpon, Live Nation, and Goodreads. Honorable mention awards go to other big companies known to flood the internet with spam: Groupon, Old Navy, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Target.

Why is spam dangerous?

Malware, ID theft, scams, phishing – you name it. While most spam is just annoying and time-consuming, about 2.5% of it can do some serious damage.

The worst spam emails try to trick you into disclosing bank details, allowing scammers to withdraw money or steal your identity. Phishing attacks statistics suggest that as much as 73% of malware-infected spam mail is intended for identity theft.

Is it illegal to spam email?

Unsolicited email is illegal. However, if you leave your address on a mailing list, notifications you receive may no longer qualify as spam. It’s very easy to get added to a spamming list, as people tend to leave their addresses on various sign-up services, newsletters, etc.

Why is spam called spam?

Spam luncheon meat was introduced in 1937 by Hormel Foods. There are at least two stories that explain how Spam meat became synonymous with the output of junk email generators.

The first theory relies on the untrue but widely held assumption that Spam uses some sort of substitute for meat, rather than the real deal. Fake meat, fake messages – spam.

However, another theory claims the name comes from a 1970 Monty Python’s Flying Circus sketch in which a group of customers in a Spam-themed restaurant yell and sing about Spam, eventually drowning out all other conversations just as unfiltered spam could drown out all the legitimate email in your inbox.

Sources

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