The quantity of stinking spam heading into your inbox may depend on the first letter in your e-mail address, claims a new study.
After analysing more than 500 million junk messages, University of Cambridge computer boffin Dr Richard Clayton discovered that e-mail addresses starting with an “A”, “M” or “S” were plagued with around 40% of spam in their mailboxes.
However the likes of Quentin, Quintessa, Zachariah and Zenevieva should be delighted to find that e-mail addresses beginning with a “Q” or “Z” only suffered around 20% of spam.
Dr Clayton’s research tried to address the question of why some people seem to be engaged in an endless battle with torrents of spam, while others get off far more lightly.
Using a dataset of 550 million e-mail messages sent to Demon Internet customers between 1st February and 27nd March 2008, Clayton noted that e-mail addresses starting with certain letters attracted far more junk than others.
The letters that spammers seemed to love the most were “A”, “M”, “S”, “R” and “P,” while e-mail addresses starting with “Q”, “Z” and “Y” had around half of the amount of spam.
Dr Clayton reckoned that the disparity could be explained by the way spammers generate e-mail addresses for firing off junk messages.
A well known form of mass spamming is “dictionary” attacks, where evil spammers take the part of a known working e-mail address and shunt endless
domain names after it in the hope of finding more real addresses (e.g. starting with a working address like email@example.com and then blasting out emails to firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org etc etc).
With more first names beginning with an “M” rather than a “Z” that should explain some of the disparities, although there is a bit of a fly in ointment as Dr Clayton’s research also found that addresses starting with the letter “U” were hit with a disproportionately high 50% spam despite the relative scarcity of em ails starting with that letter.