Hidden costs of spam

November 27 2007

Opening a mailbox full of spam: it's like wading through molasses each morning to get to the mail you actually want to read. If it bothers you, you're not alone. Recent industry surveys find that spam now makes up a staggering 80+ percent of email worldwide.

Spammers make money by using your resources instead of theirs to convey their messages -- your network, your employee time. You know spam is a nuisance, but do you know what it's actually costing your business? Some numbers to ponder:

  • About 90 billion spam messages go out each day.

  • Users spend an average of 16 seconds identifying and deleting each piece of spam

  • This translates to between $712 and $1,934 per employee each year just deleting spam, or $70 billion to all US businesses!

Aside from employee time, spam drags down your bottom line in less obvious ways. In 2004 (when volumes were about one-third of today's), spam accounted for 11% of business networking bandwidth -- clogging up your DSL or cable connection. It hogs storage space and sometimes even makes it into your back-up systems. This means you need more capacity just to stay even -- capacity that costs money.

Spam has a sinister side as well. It is the most common route for transmission for viruses, Trojans, and other forms of malware. Even if you delete it, just having it reach your system is a bad idea.

Legal solutions to spam have barely scratched the surface of the problem. Congress passed the CAN-SPAM act in 2003 and it�s snared a few token spammers, but volumes have continued to climb.

With an estimated 35 percent of spammers working from Asia and another 28 percent from Europe, you might not want to hold your breath for the arm of the law to reach them all!

In the meanwhile, a new industry of anti-spam services has sprung up to defend our mailboxes. They come in several flavors -- some good, some not so useful for a given environment. See Anti-spam for Your Business for considerations as you seek to avoid the scourge of spam. It's not healthy for your arteries or your network!