New Spiritual Spam Preys on the Faithful

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Spiritual salvation via spam?

Yup, you read it right. MessageLabs Inc., a managed email security company based in New York, is reporting that the amount of religious spam has jumped in the last few weeks. Spammers now are peddling sites that sell Bibles or offering prayers to 'save someone you love', along with their usual fare of mortgages, hair growth and money-making schemes.

The threat to corporate networks and IT administrators is that these unsolicited bulk emails are targeting a growing secular society here in the United States, according to Paul Wood, chief information security analyst for MessageLabs. And for the growing number of faithful, there just might be a lot more temptation to open a spiritually oriented email, than to fall prey to other forms of spam.

''We've started to see an increase in religious spam, particularly Christian-oriented spam,'' says Wood. ''There's obviously a market out there for this type of thing. I heard on the news just today that we're in a particular secular time, and spammers are interested in tapping this market.''

Wood also notes that religious spam is not regulated under the nearly year-old CAN-Spam Act, as the legislation does not tackle unsolicited bulk email of a religious nature.

He also adds that religious-oriented spam still makes up a small percentage of the overall flood of spam, but it's a trend that MessageLabs analysts predict will continue to grow -- especially as we come into the holiday season.

These spams vary in nature, according to Wood, and are not always trying to sell something. While some of these spams are directing users to Web sites that sell Bibles and other religious material, others start out saying, 'Eternity is a really long time,' and then it urges users to accept God and to say a prayer that will 'save you or someone that you love'.

Wood says these spiritual spams can cause several issues within an IT department and within the average office.

Opening and reading any spam not only slows productivity and wastes time, but it also encourages spammers to continue sending an increasing amount of bulk email, which overloads enterprise servers and floods inboxes, which takes attention away from legitimate email.

Wood also notes that receiving religious-oriented email in the workplace might offend some people, creating a hostile work environment.

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