Donald Trump, pitches for free iPods, discount Rolex watches and pleasure-enhancing anatomical "patches" were among the most common spams in AOL's annual spam report.
Spammers are becoming craftier, with fewer generic product pitches and more trick subject lines intended to entice recipients to open the message: "It's Lisa, I must have sent you to the wrong site" and "Your Mortgage Application is Ready" were among the lines that made AOL's 2005 top-ten list of most popular spam subject lines.
Spam volumes continue to be torrential: AOL flagged eight out of every ten inbound email messages as spam in 2005, and blocked 1.5 billion messages daily from reaching its members.
While the incoming spam volume increased in 2005 to the highest count in the three-year history of AOL's annual report, reaching 556 billion total messages, less of it is getting through to AOL's subscribers. AOL estimates that spam delivered to its 26 million members is down 75 per cent from its peak in 2003, an improvement the company attributed to better filtering technology, industry spam-fighting partnerships, new antispam litigation and stronger enforcement actions.
Still, AOL cautioned that spammers are increasingly skilled and organized. This year saw a rise in spam coming from zombie PCs and botnets, which are computers afflicted by covert, remotely controlled software that can be used for nefarious ends like sending spam or launching denial-of-service attacks. Owners of zombie PCs can unknowingly provide the resources for major spam deluges.
AOL urged customers to protect themselves with basic email self-defense techniques, such as keeping spam filters updated, safeguarding personal information online, reporting suspicious email and refraining from clicking on links or otherwise responding to spam. Should you be one of the millions receiving the message that "Donald Trump Wants You," it's best to decline the telegenic mogul's call.