Canadians winning the spam battle says poll

A recent Ipsos-Reid poll suggests that Canadians are winning the battle against spam.

The results of the survey revealed that 49 per cent of the average 177 e-mails Canadians received per week in 2004 were spam. The poll surveyed 2,000 participants either online or via telephone interviews.

That may not seem like a resounding victory, but it is significant progress when one considers that in 2003, junk mail or spam accounted for 68 per cent of the average 197 e-mails received weekly.

Ipsos-Reid attributed the drop to new laws such as Canada’s Personal Information Protection and Electronics Document Act (PIPEDA) and the proliferation of spam-filtering software.

Infact, fewer Canadians surveyed said they dread going on vacation or taking the day off for fear of the number of e-mails that await them upon their return.

While Canadian consumers are regaining control of their e-mail inboxes, the situation’s a little more ambiguous for Canadian enterprises.

“[Enterprise] is not like the consumer side where you have a centralized service desk and your Internet Service Provider has to filter out all the spam,” said Brian McKoy, product manager for managed security services with Bell Canada in Toronto.

He said it was up to businesses to put in their own spam filtering technologies or approach providers such as Bell Canada for the needed tools.

In some companies, said McKoy, spam accounts for as much as 80 or 90 per cent of employee corporate e-mail, especially if those employees’ names and e-mail addresses are advertised on a company’s Web site.

The result, he said, is not just lower employee productivity, but also inordinate consumption of IT resources and possible legal liability, if a spammer compromises a corporate PC to relay spam.

McKoy said anti-spam tools from vendors such as Bell Security Solutions Inc. (BSSI) can help enterprises reduce spam by as much as 90 to 95 per cent. He said BSSI filters, drops, deletes, or quarantines spam before it ever reaches an employee’s inbox.

However, McKoy disagreed with the Ispsos-Reid report finding that spam volumes are decreasing.

“One type of spam is being inundated with a lot of messages you don’t want. That is starting to level off and decrease a bit.

Other types of spam (like spyware and phishing) are growing. Everyday there are new things coming out that we have to fight.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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