by Billy MacInnes
Despite fears that spam could infect their computers with viruses or lead to identity theft, most UK users would rather receive spam than have a legitimate email mistakenly blocked by anti-spam software.
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The findings were contained in a survey of 6,500 users in the UK, US, France, Germany and China by Harris Interactive on behalf of anti-spam specialist Cloudmark.
It reported that as many as 67% of UK users felt that not receiving an email from a legitimate sender "was worse than receiving a spam message".
The difficulties facing spam blocking products were thrown into sharp relief by the survey's finding that significant numbers of users were struggling to distinguish between spam email and legitimate messages at a time when spam messages were on the increase.
Just under half of UK users said they had experienced an increase in spam messages over the past year.
Many UK users - 70% - feared the risk of contracting viruses from spam and just under 60% were concerned about identity theft. Of those people who responded to spam (32% in the UK), 19% contracted a virus but only 2% suffered from identity theft.
The publication of the survey results coincided with the launch of a free anti-spam product by Cloudmark called Cloudmark DesktopOne.
Vice president of engineering at the company, Leon Rishniw, said the software could "ensure that every email user worldwide is provided with the highest levels of protection for their desktop PCs".