Up to 90 percent of all emails will be spam by the end of this year, according to research released Wednesday.

Security vendor Marshal's Trace (Threat Research and Content Engineering) team monitored spam traffic from spots located across 18 countries and recorded a 30 percent increase over the past week, which smashed global record levels.

Marshal director of product management Bradley Anstis said spam has increased by a whopping 280 percent since last October.

"About 85 percent of emails received are now spam and this will go up to at least 90 percent by the end of the year if levels don't change," Anstis said.

"Spam coming out of China and South Korea has massively increased, mainly because of out-of-control botnets running off unprotected home computers."

He said many governments and users from these areas are ignorant of the need for anti-malware products, which allows botnets to proliferate.

"There is very little knowledge of the importance of malware protection and the lack of legislation means malware writers have a good chance of getting away with it. Singapore has toughened up on legislation and we have seen a drop in spam from there as a result," he said.

Anstis said the solution relies on government supporting ISPs to implement content filtering and to force users to install malware protection. Joel Camissar, Websense's Australia-New Zealand country manager and a member of APWG (the Anti-Phishing Working Group), said a national spam filtering program would end spam.

"Spam would be all but eradicated if ISPs banded together to filter incoming mail, since there are only about eight or nine pipes connecting local ISPs to the rest of the world," Camissar said. However, he acknowledged that this carries a host of privacy issues.

"Spammers are using social engineering in their phishing attacks and it is working," he said.

Nevertheless, the bulk (75 percent) of phishing emails are targeting eBay and its payment subsidiary Paypal users, according to research conducted by Sophos last year.