Spam costs a motza

Spam's intrusion on corporate networks is not only polluting the Australian workplace, it is emerging as a costly problem.

Spam and junk mail has replaced workplace legal threats as the main driver behind Australian organisations' rapid uptake of Internet filtering software.

Less than two years ago it was the legal debate surrounding the misuse of the Internet by employees and porn surfing that led to the speedy adoption of content management software, but today the real nuisance is the constant flow of spam.

Worldwide revenue for content management software is expected to hit $US4.8 billion in 2006 compared to $2 billion in 2001 which is indicative of the high level of employer concern, according to IDC.

One company trialling filtering software is National Foods, where users complained about the amount of spam that arrived each day.

National Foods IT security manager, Andreas Tilch, said spam had a serious impact on productivity; since testing began, however, there has been positive feedback from users.

"There are several Blacklists on the Internet which can be easily integrated into the system so ROI should be easy to calculate; users are also less frustrated," Tilch said.

Suttons Motors MIS manager, Tim Chan, said the company is in the process of assessing Web and e-mail filters because of the impact of spam on staff productivity.

"We are looking into buying it although spam is not a big problem at present; we want to take a pro-active approach," Chan said.

Managing director of software provider SurfControl, Charles Heunemann said spam is not only a drain on network bandwidth and staff productivity, but is emerging as a security problem with the emergence of blended virus threats.

"It is only a matter of time before blended threats such as Nimda begin piggy-backing off spam; it is up to IT to educate users not to respond to spam and encourage a reporting process whereby users can notify IT to stop further spam coming through," he said.

An IT manager who wished to remain anonymous said it is impossible to manage the spread of junk e-mail by employees, particularly chain letters.

However, respondents to research from the University of Western Sydney rated chain letters as more annoying than porn.

Chain letters top the list of objectionable e-mail, followed by credit offers, money-making e-mail and then porn.

Lotus adds antispam features to Domino serverLotus Software Group said it would include server-side spam filtering controls in Domino 6.0 when the collaboration server ships later this year.

The new features are highlighted by a rules-processing control similar to the features in Notes, the client-side software of the Lotus collaboration suite. The other feature is the ability to run real-time queries against public "black hole" lists, which provide the addresses of known spammers.

"Customers are telling us that spam is costing them lots of money," says Ed Brill, senior manager for messaging and collaboration at Lotus. "We think these new features can help save money and help administrators save end users time."

Spam is indeed a growing problem for companies, in the amount of spam and the cost to deal with it. According to Osterman Research, spam volumes can reach 15.6 million messages annually for a company of 5000 users, resulting in a cost of dealing with that spam at just under $US344,000 each year. w -- John Fontana

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