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1/22/2010
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EU Agency Report: How Email Providers Combat Spam

Report looks at spam budgets, impact of spam, and spam management

The EU 'cyber security' Agency - ENISA (the European Network and Information Security Agency) presents its new, 3rd 'spam report', i.e. anti-spam measures implemented by European Internet service providers (ISPs). The report looks at spam budgets, impact of spam and spam management. No significant progress is reported in the fight against spam.

The survey targeted email service providers of different types and sizes, and received replies from 100 respondents from 30 different countries, throughout the EU (26 /27 EU Member States); and 80 million mailboxes managed. The survey analyses how e-mail service providers combat spam in their networks, and identifies the state of art in the fight against spam. Some of the key findings are:

- Less than 5% of all email traffic is delivered to mailboxes. [This means the main bulk of mails, 95%, is spam.]This is a very minor change, from 6%, in earlier ENISA reports.

- 70% of respondents consider spam extremely significant or significant for their security operations.

- Over ¼ of respondents had spam accounting for >10% of helpdesk calls.

- Among very small providers, 1/4 of respondents allocate anti-spam budgets of over EUR 10,000 per year.

- 1/3 of very large providers dedicate anti-spam budgets >EUR 1 Mn/year.

- Fighting spam has reached a certain level of maturity.

- ISPs are using various kinds of measures: technical, awareness, policies and legal framework. Blacklists are the most commonly used anti-spam tool. On average 5 kinds of measures are used.

- ISPs consider spam prevention as a competitive advantage to attract and retain customers. However, spam is not a critical factor.

The Executive Director of ENISA, Dr Udo Helmbrecht concludes:

"Spam remains an unnecessary, time consuming and costly burden for Europe. Given the number of spam messages observed, I can only conclude more dedicated efforts must be undertaken.

Email providers should be better at monitoring spam and identifying the source. Policy-makers and regulatory authorities should clarify the conflicts between spam-filtering, privacy, and obligation to deliver."

Next steps: ENISA will deliver a report on botnets to study root causes of spam by the end of 2010. Botnets are networks of thousands of remotely controlled computers, secretly infected by malicious programs "bots", for distributing spam and criminal activities.

Download the full survey and slides. For interviews: Ulf Bergstrom, Spokesperson, ENISA, [email protected], Mobile: + 30 6948 460143, or Pascal Manzano, Security Policy Expert.

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