Getting Fried By Spam

eLABorations: Technology married with strict e-mail policies has been the most effective weapon against spam

How many times a day do I need to consider refinancing my mortgage at an astonishing low rate!, getting listed on the International Executive Guild CD-ROM, or losing weight instantly? If you look at my e-mail Inbox, apparently I need to do things multiple times an hour.

According to Ferris Research Inc., 10 percent of a typical users e-mail today is spam, or unsolicited commercial e-mail. And itll only get worse. Ferris estimates the traffic associated with spam is doubling every four months, as are the associated costs, including lost worker productivity. This means if you send e-mail to me and never hear back, Ive got a good excuse. Your important message was sandwiched between an offer to have Viagra delivered to my office, and correspondence from two lovely ladies billing themselves as Tasty Tarts.

There is a glimmer of hope, however. Legislators are trying to make it easier for you and me to opt out of junk e-mail. Theres a bill in the U.S. Senate that could create the first U.S. law directly addressing spam. And the FTC is going after e-mailers who use misleading subject lines or make untrue statements.

Unfortunately, most spam-haters and IT managers trying to stem the flood of e-mail cant wait for regulators to decide how they want to handle spam. Theyre drowning right now.

For most enterprises, the most effective weapon against spam has been technology married with strict e-mail policies. Its clear that companies relying on e-mail need to take a stance on how and when theyll control the messages that stream into their e-mail systems. That means considering filtering technologies and programs that monitor e-mail server performance, among other things.

Here at eWeek Labs, analysts test all the latest and greatest software and hardware offerings. But its different when youre in the trenches. Id like to know the types of technological approaches you IT managers are using these days to filter spam.

Id also like to thank the readers who saw my last column about the World Cup and sent e-mails generously inviting me to invest in my own Samoan club soccer team, name a star after Zinedine Zidane, and start my own fantasy soccer pool. The check is in the mail.

Drowning in spam? If youre an IT manager, tell me about it. Write to me at