spam overwhelms e-mail messages

According to Microsoft's security report, more than 97% of all e-mails sent over the net are unwanted. Inboxes are riddled and dominated by spam adverts for drugs, and general product pitches. But also, they often have malicious attachments.

Microsoft's report found that Office document attachments and PDF files were increasingly being targeted by hackers.

The global ratio of infected machines was 8.6 for every 1,000 uninfected machines.

However, Microsoft tells people not to panic about high levels of unwanted e-mail.

Cliff Evans, head of security and privacy for Microsoft in the UK said: "The good news is that the majority of that never hits your inbox although some will get through."

Chief cyber security advisor, Ed Gibson, said the rise in spam was due to traditional organised crime figures moving away from exploiting software vulnerabilities. Instead they are choosing "targeting the weak link that is you and me".

"With higher capacity broadband and better OS (operating systems), and higher power computers it is easier now to send out billions of spams. Three or four years ago the capacity wasn't there."

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