Companies struggling with anti-spam compliance

With the Federal Spam Act officially having taken effect in April, organizations have now had well over a month to adapt to the new laws or risk facing fines up to $1.1 million.

However, Meta Group senior research analyst for securities and risk strategies Michael Warrilow claims that even some of the “biggest and best” organizations in Australia are still struggling with compliance.

He said the greatest proof of organizations attempting to comply with new legislation has been the abundance of e-mail footers.

“I’ve found this extremely funny; these e-mail footers are sometimes longer than the e-mail itself,” Warrilow said.

Like most pundits Warrilow agrees legislation is not the only answer, adding that if these laws were really effective then antispam vendors would be out of business.

Tassal Operations systems administrator Sam Boynes says not all companies have bothered to comply.

“We get quite a lot of spam, and yet I haven’t seen a decrease in it since the legislation was brought in, if anything spam simply continues to increase,” Boynes said.

West Gippsland Health Care Group IT manager Joseph Oppedisano admits legislation is not going to eradicate the problem, but says there has been an attitude change across Australian organizations proving the laws are being taken seriously.

"I’ve responded to a couple of e-mails saying that I want to be taken off their mailing lists and it has worked each time,” Oppedisano said.

Internally, the spam legislation hasn't had a huge impact for Oppedisano as the organization doesn't send out advertising or marketing material.

Spam gets nasty

Michael Crawford

Stuart Winter warns that the 'next generation' of spam will be the most malicious and invasive form of direct mail advertising yet. One that has the potential to not only cripple company machines, but ensure productivity stays at an all-time low.

Winter, international operations director for software firm Proofpoint, said spam is often sent by the so-called large and legitimate companies that use the Internet as a quick and easy tool for advertising.

But spammers and virus writers are sharing tricks of each other's trades giving the problem a far more malicious undertone, Winter told delegates last week at a Unixpac security seminar in Sydney.

"You can laugh about erectile dysfunction spam but it is a legitimate form of advertising. The law is still unclear about what an ISP can give you.

It simply provides a service and it is up to end users to measure spam. [It's just like] the post office [which] doesn't read your letters," he said.

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