15 Outrageous Email Spam Statistics that Still Ring True in 2018

With all of our modern knowledge, email filters, and warnings about opening attachments from unknown addresses, how big of a deal can spam really be these days?

Unfortunately, email spam is still very much a problem in 2018 – especially for the many businesses who fall victim to spam and phishing scams year after year.

Not only can email spam can hurt your productivity and result in security breaches, it can also land you a hefty fine if you accidentally send it to your contacts.

While cold emailing itself isn’t illegal, there are some things you need to know about sending legitimate sales emails to existing and potential customers. To make sure you’re not guilty sending out spam, check out our article Is Cold Emailing Legal? What Every Sales Rep Needs to Know About Email Spam.

Today, we’re focusing on how email spam can affect you as the recipient, including who’s sending it, which country is most susceptible, and which ‘phishing lures’ are most the most popular targets for credential theft.

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This post includes 15 hard-to-believe email spam statistics, divided into four main categories:

  • How Big of a Problem is Email Spam in 2018?
  • The Cost of Email Spam
  • Email Spam Statistics Around the World
  • What Businesses Need to Know About Phishing Scams

Ready? Let’s dig in!

How Big of a Problem is Email Spam in 2018?

1. Spam accounts for 45% of all emails sent.

Spam accounts for 45% of all emails sent.

That’s right, almost half of all email content is spam! Only 55% of emails contain legitimate content, while the rest falls into the spam category.

Clearly, our spam filters are working harder than ever – but how many spam emails is that in total?


2. About 14.5 billion spam emails are sent every single day.

That 45% equates to 14.5 billion spam messages that are sent globally each day.

It certainly seems modern spammers have a lot to say. So, what are the actual contents of those 14.5 billion daily spam emails?


3. 36% of all spam is some form of advertising.

The most common type of spam is related to advertising. This includes promotional sales content that the recipient did not explicit opt-in to receive.

The second most prevalent type of spam is adult-related content, which accounts for 31.7% of all spam. Messages about financial matters rank third, making up about 26.5% of email spam.


4. Spammers receive 1 reply for every 12,500,000 emails sent.

How effective is spam at garnering clicks?

For every 12.5 million spam emails sent out, only one person responds. That might not sound like much – until you consider that over 14 billion spam messages are sent on a daily basis.


5. Spam earns senders around $7,000 per day.

With so few people clicking, what’s the motivation behind email spam campaigns? Well, research has found that spammers don’t need a ton of clicks to maintain a rather profitable business model.

Even with only one response per 12.5 million messages sent, spammers earn around $3.5 million from spam email over the course of one year.


The Cost of Email Spam

6. Spam costs businesses a whopping $20.5 billion every year.

The Cost of Email Spam

Detailed research by the Radicati Research Group Inc. suggests that the cost of spam is no small change. Due to lost productivity and technical expenses, email spam cost businesses $20.5 billion annually in 2012 – which was even more than spam gangs earned from sending it.

According to Nucleus Research, these cost breaks down to around $1934 per employee.

7. The cost of spam could grow to $257 billion annually.

Even worse news for businesses – the cost of spam is likely to continue rising. Based on the rate that spam campaigns are spreading, data indicates that the overall cost to businesses will grow to $257 billion annually within a few years.

Email Spam Statistics Around the World

8. The United States ranks first among the worst countries for spam.

Spam is certainly not a localized issue, but certain countries have it worse than others. In terms of live, ongoing spam issues, recipients in the U.S. have more to worry about than anyone.

Here’s a ranked list of which countries have the most live spam issues ongoing:

  • United States
  • China
  • Russian Federation
  • Ukraine
  • Japan
  • United Kingdom
  • India
  • Hong Kong
  • Turkey
  • Brazil


9. There are 3402 live spam issues in the US.

Though the exact number is in constant flux, there were 3402 live spam issues in the United States as of January 18, 2018, according to the SBL database.

10. The United States is home to 7 of the world’s top 10 spammers.

Not only is the U.S. the most spam-enabling country in the world, it’s also home to seven of the ten worst spammers in the world.

The United States is home to 7 of the world’s top 10 spammers.

Of the top ten spammers around the world:

  • 7 are from the United States
  • 2 are from the Ukraine
  • 1 is from Russia

11. 80% of all spam in North America and Europe is sent by the same 100 spam gangs.

The 100 most active spam operations comprise of around 200-300 individuals who are responsible for the bulk of all spam emails sent around the world. Spamhaus’ Register of Known Spam Operations (ROKSO) documents the names, aliases, and other details of the operations run by these so-called “spam gangs.”

What Businesses Need to Know About Phishing Scams

Phishing scams are a type of email spam designed to steal someone’s login credentials and, unfortunately, they’re still more prevalent than you might think.

12. 3 out of 4 companies fell victim to phishing scams in 2016

3 out of 4 companies fell victim to phishing scams in 2016

Despite growing awareness that spam is a serious, costly issue for businesses, 76% of companies reported falling victim to phishing scams in 2016. As Symantec reports, these rates are only increasing with time – so it’s crucial that businesses be vigilant in protecting themselves against malware, spam, and known phishing lures.

(Wombat Security Technologies)

13. Apple IDs are the most popular target of phishing emails.

According to Proofpoint’s 2017 Human Factor Report, a quarter of all phishing scams target Apple IDs. Other popular targets include credentials for Microsoft Outlook and Google Drive.

Here’s what the top 10 phishing lures of 2016 were according to the report:

  • Apple Account – 25%
  • Microsoft OWA – 17%
  • Google Drive – 12.9%
  • USAA – 12.4%
  • Paypal – 10.6%
  • Adobe Account – 5.8%
  • Dropbox – 4.8%
  • Blackboard – 4.7%
  • LinkedIn – 4.5%
  • CapitalOne – 2.2%

14. The most effective phishing scams target Dropbox credentials.

Even though Apple IDs are the more popular target, scammers tend to get the most results by going after Dropbox users.

Proofpoint looked at the click rate for large-scale scam campaigns with over 20,000 emails and found that those targeting Dropbox had a click rate of 13.6%, while those targeting Apple IDs only had a click rate of 1.2%.

15. Fake invoices are used in 26% of phishing scams.

Fake invoices are used in 26% of phishing scams.

According to Symantec’s 2017 email spam statistics, fake invoices are the most popular tactic for phishing scams. Just over one out of every four malware spam campaigns in 2016 used fake invoices to trick victim’s into clicking – which suggests businesses are particularly vulnerable targets.

The next most common tactics are disguising malware as attached document (13%) and scans (12%).

Mail delivery failure messages account for another 10% of phishing scams, while the final percentage breaks down like so:

  • Order – 9%
  • Payment – 7%
  • Fax – 6%
  • Bill – 6%
  • Emailing – 6%
  • Doc – 5%

(Symantec’s 2017 ISTR)

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