Report: 80 percent of emails out to manipulate

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Four out of five inbound emails are designed to deceive the recipient, according to a new report studying the scope of abusive online messages.

The Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group's (MAAWG) Email Metric Report, which analyzed data from more than 127 million mailboxes during last year's fourth quarter, found that more than 142 billion emails either were tagged or blocked before they reached the end user.

Another 61.3 billion emails were the victims of dropped connections, the study showed. Nearly 37 billion emails were unaltered before reaching their destination.

"Using this data, we intend to develop better tools, policies and practices within each of our respective organizations," said Charles E. Stiles, MAAWG's co-vice chairman and senior technology manager for America Online's mail operations. "Collectively, our customers will benefit from this added insight and the industry as a whole will benefit from learning how best to deal with the ongoing problems of messaging abuse."

This marks the first time MAAWG conducted such a study, and the San Francisco-based trade group said it plans to continue assessing new data each quarter.

"The first report includes metrics provided voluntarily by nine MAAWG-member ISPs and network operators worldwide," the organization said. "Future reports will be expanded to include additional ISPs. MAAWG is particularly suited to the task of measuring abusive email levels because it is the largest global trade association focusing on this problem." 

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