Some Numbers On The Costs Of Spam

from the that's-all? dept

I’ve seen some similar studies before, but it’s always interesting to note new numbers. A new study on just how much the spam problem costs businesses calculates the cost as being $874 per employee. Of course, this number seems to be based on an awful lot of assumptions, so I wouldn’t put much weight on it. Instead, it’s probably better to look at the hard facts the research dug up, such as the fact that the average worker receives 13.3 spam emails a day (that’s it?!?) and spends 6.5 minutes managing the spam. Of course, I wonder how they define “managing the spam” also. If I miss an important email because it gets lost in the daily spam purge, how do you calculate the “cost” or even the “time lost” of that?

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Comments on “Some Numbers On The Costs Of Spam”

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Oliver Wendell Jones (profile) says:

My counts

I have a few dozen rules setup in my Outlook client at work. They catch about 90% of my incoming SPAM and moves it to a folder called “Probable SPAM”.

Every Friday at the close of business I scan through the list of e-mails looking for any non-SPAM messages (due to the way our e-mail network handles internal e-mail addresses they are very easy to pick out of the list). I then clear the folder and start fresh for the next week.

It’s still 3.5 hours short of close of business on Friday, but I currently have 292 messages in that folder, or an average of 58.4 messages per working day which is an average of 7.3 messages per working hour.

I must be special.

Kevin says:

No Subject Given

I can’t believe how much garbage these “lost productivity” studies are. Do they think everybody works on an assembly line? If you look out a window sitting at your desk is that lost productivity? Is daydreaming lost productivity? “Studies show that daydreaming costs businesses 2000 bizillion dollars a day”, “studies show that hiring chatty people costs businesses 4 zillion dollars a month”, “studies show that world politics costs businesses millions a day because people talk about the world during work hours”, “studies show that the kiss between madonna and brittney costs businesses a million dollars and hour becuase people are all talking about it during work hours”. My guess is that the only lost productivity stats that make sense are interruptions that happened when people FINALLY get to work. like opening up a spreadsheet file and your computer crashes. Or your computer doesnt work at all. I’ll be that Microsoft costs businesses, in lost productivity, (and other costs) more than anything else in the office.

Glenn says:

No spam at work

I’ve never received a spam email at work. It may be that I personally never use work email for personal reasons, other than to correspond with friends at the company. I know that others at my work do receive spam, which means it’s not due to simply awesome filtering. So a question is… how much of this spam did you bring on yourself by misusing corporate resources? It’s a rhetorical question, and I’m not at all suggesting that you shouldn’t be allowed to do personal things during the work day.

LittleW0lf says:

Re: No spam at work

I’ve never received a spam email at work.

This is more a result of not being a large enough target than anything else. I have never used my work address (though I have used one of my client’s work address) for anything other than work related email between myself and other employees, and the fact that I work for a large fortune 100 company means that the spammers have gotten very creative about finding all of our email addresses. The one that I used to post a bugtraq message years ago receives maybe 3 or 4 emails a week compared to my work one which I’ve never used for anything other than interoffice communication.

I even have accounts on my ISP that I’ve never used, period, which have 100s of SPAM messages sent a week. The fact that the ISP is very promiscuous with the email lists has something to do with it, but the size of the target has as much to do with being targeted as the user’s personal habits.

Oliver Wendell Jones (profile) says:

Re: No spam at work

I don’t know how you define ‘misusing corporate resources’, but I assume you mean I’m using my desktop for something other than what I’m being paid for. Other than reading TechDirt, Slashdot and a few other IT news sites, I’m pretty clean. I write an internal-use-only IT e-mail newsletter and use those sites as leads for stories that might impact our business.

I have a significantly faster PC at home and with my cable modem all to myself, my internet connectivity is much more responsive at home, plus I don’t have filters blocking a majority of websites at home, either.

I’ve also noticed that approx. 1/3 – 1/2 of all the SPAM I receive is sent to multiple recipients within the company, so I suspect that someone somewhere got their hands on a corporate e-mail directory. It’s funny because our corporate e-mail system uses and so often times I can tell it’s SPAM just by seeing ‘JOHN.SMITH we have an exciting offer for you’ in the subject line.

For some reason one of the guys at our Puerto Rica location seems to be the name most often to appear in the subject line… I wonder why?

2 hours to quitting time and current count is 298 SPAM.

LittleW0lf says:

Re: Re: No spam at work

For some reason one of the guys at our Puerto Rica location seems to be the name most often to appear in the subject line… I wonder why?

Because his name falls at the break that most mass emailers use to break SPAM into smaller chunks that won’t as easily be filtered by the servers as SPAM, and your company has a low turn-over rate?

The usual way they find a list is by using brute force algorithms, sending email using common names to a company, then filtering out all the bad ones while keeping the good ones. They also find lists through the web, or via LDAP.

Cox has a very high turnover rate apparently, because my email address often bounces around in the cutpoints, sometimes I’m on the last of the list, sometimes I’m the first, and most of the time I’m in between. Just the way it is.

However, spamassassin works great, and I cannot see ever living without it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: No spam at work

I’ve received one single spam at work. I’ve had the same email address there for more than 5 years and I use that address for almost all of my internet email requests (because my personal email was changing so often).People that receive a lot of spam at work have incompetent system administrators.

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