According to a survey of 500 small and medium-sized North American businesses, spam is a costly and growing business concern that is causing some organizations to consider opting out of e-mail altogether.
The survey, conducted by Stamford, Conn.-based market researcher InsightExpress and commissioned by Symantec Corp., a California-based Internet security company, revealed that reduced productivity is motivating SMEs to consider taking substantial steps if the problem worsens.
“The results from this survey demonstrate that small businesses clearly regard spam as a business problem that threatens to undermine the efficiencies of Internet communication, transaction, and commerce,” says Matthew Moynahan, vice-president of product management at Symantec.
The survey found that small businesses are seeing a noticeable increase in spam in their inboxes. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents reported an increase in spam over the past six months, with 33% noting dramatic increases. Nearly 40% of respondents said that spam makes up more than half of their incoming e-mail.
SMEs are also willing to take steps to reduce their exposure to spam, according to the survey. For example, 42% said they would consider abandoning e-mail for business correspondence if the spam situation worsened, and 55% would consider changing their company e-mail addresses. Moreover, 56% would consider locking down their e-mail server to allow only approved messages, which would also force all users who wanted to correspond with the company via e-mail to go through an approval process first.
The survey also showed that business owners have developed a growing understanding of the potential malevolence of spam — 28% complained that it contains malicious code, 23% said spam is connected to credit card fraud, and 16% reported that it is linked to software piracy.
The survey also found that while the respondents spend little time deleting spam messages, they see it as a drain on business resources: 54% reported that spam imposed business costs in the form of reduced user productivity, followed by server and disk storage space (37%), and connection time (35%).