The week of August 7th, 2008 the amount of malicious spam a single computer user received finally overtook health and product spam. Meant to exploit holes in your operating system, get credit card information from you, or simply just to copy your contact list, spam emails have become more than just a nuisance for the States, they have become outright dangerous.
Unfortunately, our government has not made a substantial leap to protect its citizens from this danger that is lurking in our homes and offices.
The Center for American Progress and the Center for Democracy and Technology have released a report which shows in 2007 "the FTC reported 221,226 internet-related fraud complaints, up from almost 16,000 in 2006 and more than 24,000 from 2005." With these numbers so drastically high, and probably even higher than stated as many computer users don't report all of the malware they receive via email, why don't we hear about our states taking more action against spammers?
States generally have brought charges against those who they find are seeking personal data or cases where it involves pornography, but for cases involving spyware, adware and other types of phishing the Cyber-crime Newsletter released bi-monthly by the National Association of Attorneys General highlighted only 14 cases in which individuals or groups were brought before the states.
One of the reasons it may be so hard for states to bring charges against users that help promote this dangerous spam, is because so many aren't aware their computers are zombies and have been turned into spamming machines. Panda Security, has just reported that on average, during the second quarter of 2008, there were more than 10 million zombie computers worldwide spewing spam emails to others and ultimately a computer user can't be held responsible for something they didn't even know that was occurring. Most states are generally unorganized when it comes to cyber crimes at these levels and don't have the knowledge or resources to begin a program which actively seeks to prosecute those involved with crimes linked to spam.
It's unfortunate, but even knowing how many millions are affected by phishing and spam each year, states simply aren't equipped in man power or financial resources. With no changes expected in the near future, computer and data safety will be left up to the average computer user who will need to further educate themselves about the latest viruses and scams to protect themselves from the millions of living dead computers and other online dangers that are facing them each time they login to check their email.