Computer users could be putting their lives at risk if they buy slimming pills and other drugs via spam.
Last week, the United Nations International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) confirmed that a growing number of women are buying appetite suppressing drugs over the Internet in an attempt to lose weight. Almost 60% of all spam sent across the Internet is in relation to medication and pills – and, since spam could account for 90% of all E-mail, the volumes are huge.
"There are two big dangers in buying slimming pills over the Internet," says Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "Firstly, you are buying drugs without medical advice which may be inappropriate for your physical condition and could do you more harm than good.
"Secondly, you have no guarantee that what you are actually buying is the real medication. It could be that the spammers are increasing their margins by selling you bogus medications that you may have an unpleasant reaction to.
"Spammers don't care about people's health, they only care about their profits. If you have a medical problem consult a doctor, not an Internet crook."
Sophos's Security Threat Report 2007 reveals that medical spam is the most commonly encountered type of spam, overshadowing stock spams and pornography.
"Weight-loss products are just one of many goods peddled by spammers, and many computer users faced by the growing mountain of spam would like to see spammers sent to jail for a diet of bread-and-water," says Cluley.