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
'Banksy Does New York' Film - 2014

Art Somebody is going around telling people he's Banksy - but it isn't the street artist

Arts and Entertainment
Woody Allen and Placido Domingo will work together on Puccini's Schicchi

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment
The sixteen celebrities taking part in The Jump 2015

TV

Arts and Entertainment
British author Helen Macdonald, pictured with Costa book of the year, 'H is for Hawk'
booksPanel hail Helen Macdonald's 'brilliantly written, muscular prose' in memoir of a grief-stricken daughter who became obsessed with training a goshawk
Arts and Entertainment
Tom DeLonge has announced his departure from Blink-182

music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
In the picture: Anthony LaPaglia and Martin Freeman in 'The Eichmann Show'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Kirkbride and Bill Roache as Deirdre and Ken Barlow in Coronation Street

tvThe actress has died aged 60
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Marianne Jean-Baptiste defends Joe Miller in Broadchurch series two

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Arts and Entertainment

Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated

Arts and Entertainment
Damian Lewis shooting a scene as Henry VIII in Wolf Hall
TV

Arts and Entertainment
A history of violence: ‘Angry, White and Proud’ looked at the rise of far-right groups

tv

An expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle

Arts and Entertainment

art

Lee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Keaton in the 1998 Beetlejuice original

film

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TV

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.

    Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

    Greece elections

    In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
    Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

    Holocaust Memorial Day

    Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
    Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

    Magnetic north

    The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
    Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

    Front National family feud?

    Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
    Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

    Pot of gold

    Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
    10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

    From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

    While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
    Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

    'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

    Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
    DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

    The inside track on France's trial of the year

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
    As provocative now as they ever were

    Sarah Kane season

    Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

    Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore