Spam balloons in Australia despite legislation

Since the introduction of antispam legislation in Australia in April this year, the spread of unsolicited junk e-mail has increased and continues to rise.

Last month spam and virus levels jumped a whopping 10 per cent proving antispam legislation introduced on April 11 has been ineffective. Both vendors and users alike were optimistic new laws would have some impact, but now admit their initial expectations were a too high.

David Banes, Messagelabs Ltd.’s Asia Pacific technical director, said the company has scanned more than 50 million business e-mails a day throughout the month of June and found more than 86 per cent, or one in every 1.16 e-mails, contained spam. Banes said a further 9.3 per cent, or one in every 10.7, e-mails had viruses, trojans and other forms of malware.

“Since antispam legislation came into effect in Australia, the U.S. and U.K., we have seen spam levels dip slightly then resume their steady upward trend; this suggests spammers are finding ways to nullify the legislation,” Banes said. “Legislation certainly isn’t as effective as we hoped. In NSW you can get 10 years for writing a virus, but in the big picture how much does that really help the global virus problem?”

Technology has proven to be more effective than laws with IDC last week releasing a whitepaper which shows businesses without antispam solutions end up financially battered and bruised.

Sponsored by the provider of MIMEsweeper products, Clearswift, the paper provides tips on how to assess antispam technology and tactics to fight the war against bulging inboxes.

According to IDC, e-mail users in organizations without antispam solutions lose an average 10 minutes each day due to spam. This translates to US$4.1 million in lost productivity each year for firms with 5,000 e-mail users.

The vendor also povides a calculator to help IT managers at medium to large organizations determine the cost of spam.

In the U.S., nearly 70 per cent of organizations had implemented an antispam solution in 2003 and 20 per cent more expect to have one in place in 2004.

IDC analyst Brian Burke said the whitepaper gives IT staff a base of information to work from when defining the costs of unwanted content. Burke said antispam solutions, on average, reduce the amount of time spent by users on e-mail spam by as much as 50 per cent.

IT should take a multifaceted approach to the problem, he said, incorporating antispam solutions with antivirus and authentication tools.

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