Im Dreaming of a Spam-Free New Year

How does your company dodge the daily deluge of junk e-mail?

Complaining about the amount of spam in our e-mail in-boxes is becoming a time-honored sport here at eWeek. Launch Microsoft Outlook on any given Monday, and practically every in-box at this magazine is filled with a slew of offers for printer cartridges and online marketing secrets

But are we the only lucky ones privy to such deals?

A survey released earlier this week by the nonprofit Pew Internet and American Life Project found that 52 percent of American workers say they receive relatively little unwanted spam e-mail at work.

According to the survey, more than half of the 1,003 Internet users polled said they received no spam at work. And, 19 percent said fewer than 1 in 10 messages they received were spam. The report credits enterprise IT managers for installing server side filters or spam-fighting services that kick out or divert spam before it reaches inboxes.

If youre one of these enterprise end users living a spam-free life, Id really appreciate it if youd write in and let me know where it is you work. Id like to know what types of anti-spam technologies your IT managers have found, be-cause its obvious eWeek needs to deploy whatever it is youre using.

True, having my e-mail address out on the Internet—as it is at the end of this column—makes me a prime target for spam. Still, I have my doubts that other enterprises are really as effective at eliminating spam from the workplace as the Pew research suggests.

Think about it. Can you imagine a workday with no spam at all? IT research firm Gartner Group estimates that, unless an enterprise starts deploying anti-spam technologies now, more than 50 percent of its message traffic will be spam by 2004. As marketers be-come increasingly aggressive with their campaigns, spam will only continue to pose a huge problem for enterprises and their employees. In fact, technology consulting firm Ferris Research Inc., in San Francisco, reported that spam is beginning to proliferate on instant messaging clients.

While sandboxing technologies and content filters work to some degree, I think the easiest and most effective way for enterprises today to eliminate spam from their e-mail servers may be to attack the problem at the gateway level. Solutions from vendors such as Corvigo, Trend Micro and Vircom stop e-mail pegged as junk from continuing to the mail server and the intended recipients e-mail box.

Although such solutions cannot prevent bandwidth from being taken up by junk e-mails, they should at least cut down on the amount of spam end users actually see.

In the new year, eWeek Labs will continue to test and review anti-spam products and services. These tests mean I might miss out on golden opportunities such as cheap septic tanks and fabulous mortgage refinancing deals, but theyre a loss I could learn to live with.

Until then, Ill continue to use the best anti-spam tool at my disposal: the Delete button.

Have you eliminated spam from your workplace? Tell me how you did it at