Spamunsolicited e-mail, usually for commercial purposesis not only a nuisance for corporate users, it is a drain on productivity, said a panel of experts at the recent Comdex 2003 Global Technology Marketplace held here.
Panel leader Dave Piscitello, president of Core Competence Inc., a network management consulting firm based in Chester Springs, Pa., noted that in addition to its unsolicited status, spam is often “advertising for dubious, offensive, potentially illegal products and services.” Often, he added, the message is a scam involving some get-rich-quick scheme or soliciting donations to phony causes.
According to Michael Osterman, president of Osterman Research Inc., Black Diamond, Wash., however, a significant problem for businesses is that their employees may each spend more than 6 days a year dealing with the spam they receive.
Osterman said that, for most people, between 50% and 65% of all e-mail is spam. He noted that his companys research found that users identify spam as their No. 1 problem consistently. “Its grown so quickly; its a very serious problem,” he said.
While some 80% of organizations have some form of anti-spam technology in place, even protected employees will spend as much as 80 minutes per 1,000 e-mails (about 2.4 work days a year) dealing with spam, he emphasized. Unprotected employees will spend about 200 minutes per 1,000 e-mails (6.1 work days per year).
“Spam is not free speech,” Piscitello claimed. “It is costly for organizations.” It is also costly to the technology community because “it turns a lot of consumers away from technology,” he added.
He pointed out that spammers and anti-spam technologists are constantly “playing a game of cat and mouse,” with spammers working hard to find ways to bypass anti-spam filters.
When it comes to such filters, however, Osterman said that in his research, 40% of spam-filter users report that the products performance is degrading over time. “Early generation systems are not as effective as current products,” he noted.
Osterman said that with spam filters, false positiveslegitimate e-mail identified as spamare “more of a problem than spam itself,” because they could result in missing important e-mails. He added that an “acceptable” level of false positives is 3%, while 1% is “good” and the “ideal” is .0002%. Having zero false positives is possible, he noted, but that requires “a lot of tuning.”