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Symantec Survey Shows Seniors Are The Most Spam-Savvy Online Demographic

Nearly One In Five Adult E-mail Users Have Been Victims Of Online Fraud, Amplifying The Need For Additional Anti-Spam Education And Protection

CUPERTINO, Calif. - March 22, 2004 - Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC), the world leader in Internet security technology, today announced results of a survey that found that seniors are the most spam-savvy online demographic compared to other age groups. Seniors are less likely to take inappropriate actions when dealing with spam. This cautious online behavior means that seniors are less likely than others to fall victim to email scams. The survey found that about one in every five (18 percent) adult email users have been victims of online fraud, highlighting the importance of continuing anti-spam education and protection. The survey, conducted online for Symantec by Applied Research, a full service market research firm, interviewed 1,000 Internet users ages 18 and older. It measured adults' experience with unsolicited emails.

"The online population for the senior demographic is growing faster than any other group, making them a very real target for spammers," said Matthew Moynahan, vice president of Product Management, Client and Host Security, at Symantec. "Online scam artists often deceive unsuspecting victims, using disguised e-mails that appear legitimate. Regrettably, users are duped into disclosing their confidential information, such as credit card numbers, bank account information, social security numbers and passwords. Seniors, as well as other e-mail users, should be alert and educated about spam to protect themselves."

Seniors Are The Most Spam-Savvy Group
The survey shows that seniors, compared to other lnternet users, are less likely to take inappropriate actions when handling unsolicited emails. As a result, seniors are less likely to become victims of spam scams. When asked whether they have clicked on a link in an unsolicited email to get more information, more than one in three users between the ages of 18 and 64 said they had. However, only 23 percent of email users ages 65 and older clicked on a spam link. Queried whether they usually open spam emails with a subject line that interests them, only five percent of seniors said they did, the smallest percentage of any age group.

In addition, when asked whether or not they have responded to an email offer, but later found it was phony or fraudulent, those who said yes included 21 percent of 18 to 29 year olds, 19 percent of 30 to 64 year olds, but only 13 percent of seniors. The senior number is lower than the overall percentage (18 percent) of all adult Internet users who have been a victim of online schemes.

Senior Email Users Are Offended By Spam They Receive Daily
The study also shows that almost every senior (97 percent) receives spam daily. Nearly one in two (44 percent) receives at least 10 junk emails a day and one in every 10 receives at least 50 a day.

Results of the study verify that seniors, like other email users, are very disturbed by spam. When asked which characteristics of spam bother them, 83 percent picked its offensive/obscene subjects, 72 percent chose its deceptive and dishonest contents, 70 percent picked its ability to contract a computer virus and 68 percent selected its ability to compromise their privacy.

Seniors Are Eager To Stop Spam But They Are Not Using Anti-Spam Protection
The survey also shows that a majority of all email users are eager to stop spam. When asked whether or not they want to stop strangers from sending them spam emails, those who answered yes included 76 percent of the respondents between the ages of 18 and 29, 84 percent between the ages of 30 and 49, 79 percent between the ages of 50 and 64, and 86 percent of the respondents who are 65 and older.

While displeasure with spam is high, fewer users take active steps to reduce the flow of unsolicited email. Approximately two-thirds of respondents between the ages of 18 and 64 report using spam-filtering products to cut down on spam emails. However, only 47 percent of the respondents who are 65 and older employ spam-fighting products. Of all results, the percentage difference between the seniors who want to see spam end versus the ones who actually use spam-filtering products (86 versus 47 percent) is the largest, indicating that while seniors are more cautious when handling spam they receive, they are not taking enough proactive actions to stop unsolicited emails from getting to their inboxes.

Tips for All Email Users
Results of the survey point out that additional anti-spam education and protection for all email users are crucial. Responding to these findings, Symantec offers email users the following tips to help protect them from becoming spam victims:

  1. Do not respond to suspicious spammed e-mails. A response only confirms the accuracy of your e-mail address and may result in even more messages filling up your inbox.
  2. Do not click on the "unsubscribe" button to be taken off the sender's list. Spammers often use this method as a ploy to confirm the recipient's address, resulting in even more spammed e-mail.
  3. Choose an uncommon e-mail address. Some spammers use programs that produce millions of potential e-mail addresses. These programs attach combinations of letters and/or words onto the domain names of large ISPs, such as "@hotmail.com," to reach the maximum number of possible active e-mail accounts.
  4. Use spam-filtering or spam-blocking software, such as Symantec's Norton AntiSpam 2004, to cut down unsolicited emails.
  5. You can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about a spam email that you have received. Visit FTC Online at www.ftc.gov to file a complaint or forward the spam email to the FTC for investigation.

About Symantec
Symantec is the world leader in providing solutions to help individuals and enterprises assure the security, availability, and integrity of their information. Headquartered in Cupertino, Calif., Symantec has operations in more than 40 countries. More information is available at www.symantec.com.

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