Network administrators battle spam

Research released Wednesday claims that one in four network administrators spend more than an hour each day managing spam.

The Anti-SPAM Prevalence Study, commissioned by US content security management company SurfControl, found that 20 per cent of businesses classify spam as serious to epidemic in their organisation.

Australian researcher Dr Monica Whitty, of the Social Justice, Social Change Research Centre at the University of Western Sydney, is conducting a study on Australian Internet and e-mail habits and claims the US experience is being repeated here.

"Spam is creating an increasing burden for IT departments and it's not only commercial spam that's causing the problem -- this new research shows that employees are also receiving up to 1500 junk e-mails from family, friends and colleagues each year," Whitty said.

In a recent Australian study Whitty found employees were most annoyed by chain e-mails, typically sent by people they know. So, while e-mail was originally envisaged as a tool to free up time, individuals are finding they spending more time sifting through unwanted e-mails. Managing director of SurfControl in Australia, Charles Heunemann, said junk e-mail is costing business.

He estimates each piece of unwanted e-mail costs companies almost $2 in lost productivity.

"So, friendly junk e-mail could cost a company with 500 employees $1.3 million each year," Heunemann said.

Canterbury City Council IT manager Dean Galvin has first hand experience with managing non- business e-mail in the workplace.

"Junk e-mail is now so prolific that, at times, between 30 and 40 per cent of e-mail coming into our network is not business related. Recently we had 56Mb of non work related Mpeg files entering our system in a 24-hour period," Galvin said.

Galvin says that an explosion in the junk and jokes doing the rounds of office e-mail over the past 12 months has made e-mail filtering software one of the most important IT assets for the council.

"By removing these files from prime working time, we can improve system performance -- and if we can give people more bandwidth to do their jobs, their jobs become less stressful."

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