What used to be an annoyance has now developed into a criminal endeavor, with hackers on the Spammers’ payroll.

In the war against Spam, the good guys are losing, Simson Garfinkel says in a recent column. What used to be an annoyance has now developed into a criminal endeavor, with hackers on the Spammers’ payroll. The hackers create worms to invade address books of recipients, who in turn generate millions of Spam mails.

At this point, it appears U.S. legislation is not going to stop the problem, Garfinkel said in MIT’s Technology Review, since a growing wave comes from beyond U.S. borders. Brightmail is an anti-Spam company that says it snags 15 percent of Spam that travels the Internet. They say that 56 percent of all Internet e-mail is Spam, up 40 percent from a year ago.

And while the U.S. is still the leading source of Spam, our rate of good/bad runs about 50/50 percent. From Asian sources, Spam outnumbers legitimate e-mail by a 10-1 ratio. At this point, the cost to business is more than $1billion per year, Garfinkel says.