Ipswitch Monday announced the result of its ninth Spamometer survey, revealing that 96.4 percent of all e-mail received is spam, the highest rate since recording began. This compares with 95 percent the previous quarter and only 84 percent over the same period last year. The biggest category of spam -- finance -- accounts for 41 percent of all messages received in an e-mail inbox; a quarter of spam e-mails were categorized as medication; with pornographic e-mails accounting for 21 percent.

The rise in financial spam mirrors the current trend for e-mails requesting recipients to call illegitimate call centers and pass over personal financial information known as "Vishing.'" Ipswitch's research also found that spam from botnets accounted for 72 percent of all spam generated.

Medication spam has been knocked off the top spot for the first time in three quarters. Finance spam e-mails have risen from only 12 percent the previous quarter to 41 percent over the holidays. Pornographic e-mails descended to third position this quarter, down from 21 percent to 16 percent.

1. Finance - 41 percent (up from 5)

2. Medication - 19 percent (down from 1)

3. Pornographic - 16 percent (down from 2)

4. Gambling - 13 percent

5. Undecipherable - 8 percent (down from 3)

"The trend that Ipswitch's figures show is a continued move from pragmatic, opportunistic spam being carried out by a single user for their own gain to fully organized criminal gangs using botnets to gain both volume of e-mails and a degree of anonymity from automated shut-downs, alongside the use of professionally run 'help' desks where the unwary are persuaded to give up there financial security details. This level of sophistication shows there really is only one solution to spam -- to stop it before it reaches the end user," warns Quocirca Ltd Service Director, Business Process Analyst, Clive Longbottom.

"The current trend for vishing highlights the problem of criminals tending to be half a step in front of the law and causing significant damage before they are brought to justice. We are already seeing the impact on individuals who have become victims of vishing," comments Ipswitch's President of the Messaging Division, Tripp Allen. "vishing has undoubtedly knocked consumer confidence in the security of VoIP technologies. Even though the vulnerabilities were generally down to the user not taking the proper precautions."