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How much of an impact do spam-blocking tools have?

Apr 29, 20032 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsMalwareMessaging Apps

* Study gives glimpse into how effective spam-blocking tools are

We’re conducting a study of end users’ spam-blocking technologies and related issues. Although the study is still underway, I’d like to pass along some interesting early results.

Most e-mail users are protected by some sort of spam-blocking capability, whether it is provided by their company at the server or gateway level, or it’s simply a spam filter in their e-mail clients. About seven out of 10 e-mail users have such a capability, even if it’s a fairly rudimentary one.

Among those users, 25% of the e-mail they receive is still considered to be spam; for those without any spam blocking, that figure is 32%. If we assume that the typical user receives 35 messages in a typical workday, unprotected users will receive nearly 600 more spam messages every year than protected users.

This also means that the typical spam-blocking capability that has been deployed isn’t doing as good a job as the leading-edge technologies currently available, given that even protected users are receiving so much spam.

Spam-blocking capabilities save users time. Our research is showing that the average time spent per week dealing with spam by a typical user protected with some sort of spam-blocking technology is 11 minutes less than for those users who do not have a spam-blocking capability implemented. This means that the average protected user will save more than nine hours annually compared to someone who is not protected.

Finally, e-mail users are tired of spam. Our research is showing that more than 50% of e-mail users find spam “extremely annoying,” and more than 60% find sexually oriented spam “extremely offensive.” Interestingly, those e-mail users protected by spam-blocking capabilities are more annoyed and offended by spam than those without.

Highlights of this study are available at: