Email Strain, The

Robinson, Jon

JupiterResearch forecast that in three years the dollar amount spent on online advertising will surpass the amount spent on magazines. While each medium is projected to earn about US$13.8 billion by 2006, online ad spending is forecast to pull ahead the following year by some US$500 million – reaching US$15 billion.

This pace is expected to continue in subsequent years as online initiatives find their way to much sturdier ground than in the recent past. JupiterResearch defines online advertising as a paid message on websites, online services or other interactive mediums like instant message or email. While email is no doubt the killer app of the internet, it still needs to find a way through spam, hoaxes and viruses before it can become the powerful 1:1 marketing tool it so naturally appears to be.

The ubiquitous hatred for spam and fear of viruses is giving the print medium a rationale to be promoted as an effective direct-marketing tool. Sophos, a developer of security software for viruses and spam, published a report revealing its top-ten email viruses and hoaxes causing problems for businesses around the world during the month of December 2004. As Sophos has a vested interest in singling out virus doom, the company claims to currently protect systems against 98,499 viruses.

The company’s December activity report found a new virus entry, called Zafi-D, which, 24 hours after being discovered, accounted for more than 72 per cent of all virus reports. One in ten emails were infected by the worm. Although it was only discovered in mid-December, Zafi-D moved to the top of Sophos’ Top Ten Viruses list, overshadowing the once dominant Netsky-P and Zafi-B bugs.

Sophos commented in its report that it is quite alarming to see a virus gain so much traction in such a short amount of time. Sophos analyzed and protected against 964 new viruses in December. The company’s research shows that over 5.6 per cent, or one in 18 emails, circulating during the month of December were viral. This figure is the same as last month’s figure.

The marketing challenge facing email campaigns also includes hoaxes, which downplay the medium’s direct messaging ability. “The Christmas-themed Elf Bowling hoax re-entered the chart in December,” said Gregg Mastoras, senior security analyst at Sophos, when commenting about the company’s Top Ten Email Hoaxes. “The hoax warned computer users to be wary of emails containing a game called Elfbowl.exe, which it claims to be a dangerous virus. Although there have been viruses disguised as games, this warning is totally a fraud. However, it is possible for the game to be infected by a virus in the future and be redistributed via email.”

The Top Ten Email Hoaxes reported to Sophos during December 2004:

1 hotmail hoax (32.7 per cent, sixth month at number one)

2 Meninas da Playboy (9.7 per cent)

3 A virtual card for you (7.8 per cent)

4 Elf Bowling (5.4 per cent, re-entred list)

5 Yahoo instant message (4.2 per cent)

6 Applebees Gift Certificate (3.5 per cent)

7 Bonsai kitten (3.1 percent)

8 Budweiser frogs Screensaver (2.3 per cent)

9 Jamie Bulger (2.0 per cent)

10 Bill Gates fortune (1.5 per cent)

Others (27.8 per cent)

Copyright Youngblood Communications Co., Ltd. Feb 2005

Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved

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