Spam sent via instant messaging is set to become a major nuisance in 2004, a new study suggests.
The number of IM spam messages will triple this year, from 400 million to 1.2 billion, according to research firm the Radicati Group.
The increase in IM spam, also referred to as "spim", will come about due to much greater use of IM among businesses and a rapid increase in published IM names in corporate and public directories, Radicati says in a report.
The overall business IM market grew by 130 percent from 2002 to 2003, and will grow a further 85 percent from 2003 to 2004, according to another research company, Ferris Research. By 2007, the overall business IM market will increase to 182 million users, representing a compound annual growth rate of 79 percent.
IM spammers are developing sophisticated software which automatically sends messages, which are mainly touting pornography, to millions of users, and which can automatically change screen names when the user blocks an IM attempt, according to Ferris.
And because of the intrusive nature of IM, spim may be more annoying to recipients but also more successful, Ferris says.
IM spam still represents a small fraction of the overall spam problem. E-mail spam will more than double in 2004 to 35 billion messages, Radicati estimates.