Spam cleaning with the big boys

Wednesday, 12 November 2003, 12:51 PM EST

You think you've got spam problems with a hundred or so spam messages a day? Try being an ISP or a business where on a good day you don't get more than a one hundred thousand spam mails a day.

You can't believe it's that much. Think again. How bad is it? Ferris Research, a San Francisco- and London-based email and groupware analysis firm, says that 30% of inbound email is spam at ISPs, while at companies, spam accounts for 15% to 20% of inbound email. "In 2002," Ferris says, "the total cost of spam to corporate organizations in the United States was $8.9 billion."

Since that Ferris study, things have only gotten worse. According to ISP and business mail administrators I've spoken with, ISP inbound mail is now up to 50% junk mail, while corporations e-mail servers are up to a rather horrifying 30%. In addition, it's only going to get worse, the Coalition against Unsolicited Bulk Email, Australia, estimates that spam's volume is doubling every 4.5 months.

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