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Spam Costs Keep Rising For Business

Despite new laws and technologies, spam increasingly takes a toll on business coffers, costing employers $1,934 a year for each worker through loss of productivity, according to a study released Tuesday by Nucleus Research.

Nucleus, an advisory firm that specializes in return-on-investment research, considers its estimate conservative because it doesn't account for less-visible costs of spam, such as expenses related to IT personnel, software, hardware, and bandwidth hogged by spam. Also missing from its calculation: the negative impact of virus-triggered network outages on customer satisfaction or increased business exposure to harassment.

Though spam-filtering technologies have become more sophisticated, they haven't prevented workers from receiving more unwanted and unsolicited messages. On average, Nucleus says, users at companies with companywide spam filters received 20% less spam, suggesting ROI opportunities from the technologies. But last July, that figure stood at 26%.

All this is occurring nearly a half-year after Congress enacted the Can-Spam Act aimed at penalizing spammers and the introduction of enhanced spam-filtering tools. Nucleus contends that many IT administrators have shied away from configuring spam filters to more-aggressive levels because they fear legitimate E-mail may be blocked, too. "Filtering technologies are doing their best to lessen the impact and do deliver a clear ROI, but the exponential growth of spam limits their effectiveness," Rebecca Wettemann, VP of research of Nucleus Research, said in a statement accompanying the report.

Wettemann called on companies to lobby Congress to toughen existing anti-spamming laws to make it costly for spammers to send unsolicited messages.

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