You’ve probably noticed it, and here’s a New York Times article to confirm it: after a respite for a year or two, the volume of spam has risen sharply in the last few months; worldwide spam volumes have doubled since last year and it currently accounts for more than 9 out of every 10 e-mail messages delivered worldwide.

The article has some fascinating details about the “image spam” flooding your inboxes with penny stock offers. It’s all about evading spam filters – that’s why the text is hidden in an image, that’s why the image has speckles or designs in the background, that’s why the image has a few pixels changed in each and every message.

You’ve probably wondered who in their right mind would buy a penny stock based on a bizarre piece of e-mail spam. The answer is that e-mail is not sent only to people in their right mind. The spammers buy the penny stock, then send their messages by the millions; enough people buy the stock that the spammers can sell their shares in one or two days and make a 5-6% profit. Amazing, isn’t it?

There’s no magic bullet – the bad guys are outracing the good guys again. As always, your best friend is the Delete key.