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Email study could mean more targeted spam

Spam for breakfast coming soon!
Spam for breakfast coming soon!

Do you approach your email rationally, setting aside time to deal with them efficiently en masse, and sorting the important messages from the trivial?

Do you heck. Researchers at Northwestern University have found that people essentially send emails at random, but in predictable cycles.

Luís Amaral, Associate Professor of at America's Northwestern University, studied e-mails sent and received from more than 3,000 e-mail accounts at a European university during a three-month period, to find out how people communicated online.

Random responses

The result was a model in which people send e-mails at random, but the probability of them sending e-mails during a given period depended on what that period was.

If it was in the middle of the night, the probability was near zero. If it was during the weekend, the probability was much lower than during weekdays.

"If you know how people access that service, it teaches you how to interact with the system," Amaral said, "A good time to send an e-mail is just about the time that the person has arrived at work."

When spammers learn this research, you can expect more spam to arrive in your inbox when you sit down at your PC in the morning. Which is as good a reason to have a lie-in as we've ever heard.