Spam Costs, Volumes Soar Despite New Laws

By Matthew Hicks  |  Print this article Print


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Two new reports find that spam's cost to enterprises has more than doubled in the past 10 months, costing almost $2,000 per employee each year, as the volume of spam reaches new heights.

The cost of spam is escalating for enterprises as the amount of unsolicited e-mail being sent continues to reach new heights, two new reports revealed this week.

The cost of spam has more than doubled for enterprises in the past 10 months, costing an average of $1,934 per employee a year based on lost productivity, according to a survey released Monday by Nucleus Research Inc. The cost in July 2003 was $874 per employee a year.

The latest figure is based on a May survey of 82 Fortune 500 companies, in which enterprise users reported receiving twice as many unsolicited messages as they had 10 months earlier, for an average of 29 a day, according to Wellesley, Mass.-based Nucleus.

Meanwhile, the latest monthly spam figures released Tuesday by e-mail security provider MessageLabs Ltd. show spam volumes reaching new heights. In May, 76 percent of inbound e-mails scanned by MessageLabs were spam, up from 67 percent a month earlier.

Spam's intensifying plague comes despite a federal law, called the CAN-SPAM Act, enacted six months ago to curb the flow of spam. CAN-SPAM, among other things, made it a crime to send e-mail messages with forged headers. Companies such as Microsoft Corp. have vowed to use the law to sue spammers.

Click here to read more about recent discussions concerning CAN-SPAM in the U.S. Senate.

Along with the new law having little effect so far on spam in the enterprise, Nucleus also found that spam filters themselves are having less impact.

Companies with spam filters received 20 percent less spam in the May survey, compared with 26 percent less spam 10 months earlier.

Nucleus cited increasing spam volumes and reluctance among enterprises to use the most aggressive filtering techniques as the causes for the drop in filter effectiveness.

"Although companies should continue to deploy and upgrade to the most current versions of their spam-filtering solutions, eliminating spam necessitates a strategy that combines technical and legal devices," Nucleus suggested in its report.

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Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for eWEEK.com, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for eWEEK.com. Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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