Costly spam that needs to be canned

A new survey has found that the sending of unsolicited e-mails, known as `spamming', is costing British business more than pounds 5bn per year. Sandra Vogel reports

Spam. Just saying the word is enough to throw some Internet users into a frenzy. And it is no wonder, if a new report from Novell is anything to go by. Eager to encourage businesses to make the most of their software, and use computers to increase, not decrease, productivity, Novell has completed a survey into the prevalence of spam, or unsolicited e-mail, in Britain and Ireland, and has come up with some astounding results.

The bald figures spell out the sheer scale of the problem - 65 per cent of respondents to the survey admitted to having received spam. The actual amount any one person receives varies, with three out of four respondents saying they had up to five spams a day, and 16 per cent receiving between six and 20 spams daily.

That amount of spam can take quite a lot of managing. Fifteen per cent of respondents claimed to spend an hour dealing with spam every day. That is a huge chunk of time to take out of an average working day, and, as every good businessperson knows, time is money. The bottom line of Novell's research is that spam costs business in Britain and Ireland pounds 5.3bn a year.

But diminishing the corporate coffers is not the only problem associated with spam. It can also have a significant effect on the individuals who receive it. At one end of the spectrum, it is just an irritating, unwanted, timewaster. E-mails of the "get rich quick" variety and unwanted memos circulated on internal e-mail systems are glanced at and trashed. But at the other end, spam can include chain letters, fanatical religious messages, pornography, personal harassment and even what is becoming known as cyber-stalking.

During the course of its research, Novell uncovered the case of Emma, a 16-year-old office junior, who, because of her propensity to use Usenet discussion groups, a key hunting ground for spammers, has ended up on plenty of lists. She currently receives 25 spams a week. Novell's research indicates that around 6 per cent of spam is sex- or pornography-related and, inevitably, some of it fell into Emma's mailbox. She is angry. "Spammers put things like `message from a friend' in the subject header. It's really annoying when you think you've got mail from a friend only to find some pretty disgusting porn," she says.

And what about those bulk spammers intent on direct marketing by e-mail? Sanford Wallace, also known as the "Spam King", is well known as a peddler of junk e-mail Stateside, but the UK is starting to hatch home-grown spammers. In a case currently being investigated by Strathclyde police, one bulk e-mail operation sent 300,000 messages per hour for 11 hours before being stopped by their Internet service provider.

Given all this, says Andrew Sadler-Smith, managing director of Novell UK, "it is alarming that so many companies don't have a policy to combat spam, especially as there are many software applications and features in e-mail products available now which can offer an effective way of counteracting it."

In fact, during the course of its research, Novell found that only one in four companies had a policy for dealing with spam. In a bid to redress the balance, it has released its own written policy guidelines, which are intended to act as a starter for any company wanting to "can the spam". Coupled with some good filtering software, and strong policies on e-mail harassment, these should help to save some of that pounds 5.3bn, and eliminate one of the modern causes of workplace stress.

`A Spammer in the Works' is available from Firefly on 0171-381 4505, cost pounds 45

guidelines for dealing with spam

Don't

respond with another spam mail or a "flame" mail as this could provoke "spam wars". An acceptance of any offers by e-mail or even a simple reply legitimises your e-mail address for future spamming

spend time sifting through, reading and opening numerous spam mails

be provoked into aggressive or anti-social conduct in the workplace

leave your e-mail address in chat groups or enter questionable Web sites

give your e-mail address to contacts you do not fully trust and know

Do

think before you send any e-mail

ensure that all e-mails you send are labelled and targeted correctly, and are consistent with the company's policy

make full use of the functionality of your filtering software

in the absence of effective software, report the spam mails to your IT manager, line manager or personnel manager. They can then determine appropriate action

inform your Internet service provider of the volume of spam mails and request that action be taken

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

art
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

    Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

    'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture