The impact of spam on business operations

MailShark The impact of spam on business operations SPAM infographic

The impact of spam on business operations

How much does spam actually impact business? Rather substantially, as it turns out. Help Net Security have reported on the findings of a survey by GFI software. The survey was done in the US, and consisted of 200 firms, with company size varying from a minimum of 5 employees up to 1000. The responders were generally IT administrators.

The main issues related to spam email are phishing attacks, which is where the email tries to trick a user in order to gain user credentials, and malware attacks, where an email installs malware on a user PC and/or corporate server. The survey looked at several specific areas of spam email, including dating email and banking email. According to the survey, 49% of spam email was classified as phishing email.

Malware being downloaded to a user machine and/or a server was the chief cause of disruption to business. 27% reported malware being downloaded as a result of a user clicking on a link. 22% reported network disruption due to a user responding to a spam email. The impact in terms of productivity is instructive. 48% of businesses lost up to 3 hours of productivity due to a spam related incident. 9% of firms surveyed have lost up to 9 productive hours, equating to just over a day of work.

This translates into a direct impact to the profitability of a business. One of the apposite finding of the survey was that 37% of firms said that employees often had to devote time to fighting spam. In terms of frequency of spam related incidents, 45% of firms reported up to three issues relating to spam email that caused impact to the business in a year. The full survey (together with a nice infographic) is available on the GFI website.

The article by Help Net Security, the GFI infographic, and a further piece from Topsec Technology underscores the continuing impact of spam email on businesses, as well as the financial cost. Defence in depth with email filtering and anti-virus are required to combat the threat of spam.

Scott Reeves
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