InsightExpress surveyed for the study 500 small businesses about spam, and a sizeable portion (64 per cent) said that the number of spam messages entering their inboxes had increased over the last six months. One-third of those who noticed an increase called it a dramatic increase, and almost 40 per cent of respondents said made up more than half of the e-mail coming into their businesses.
“The findings in a nutshell is spam’s gone beyond just being a big nuisance in most people’s inboxes to be being a very serious negative impact on small businesses,” said Nancy Mohler, senior product manager of Norton Anti-Spam at Symantec.
“It’s gone beyond that irritation that we all just skip past some junk mail to really taking up people’s time. A good percentage of people are becoming aware of the malicious threats that are associated with spam beyond the inconvenience that it’s causing.”
The top user complaint about spam, with 63 per cent noting it in their response to the survey, was that spam is offensive in nature. In addition to that, 61 per cent of respondents said spam is distracting in the workplace and 55 per cent were seeing productivity declines because of the spam problem. To fight the problem, 32 per cent of those surveyed have set up dummy e-mail addresses that they give out to blacklist companies. However, 56 per cent would consider locking down their e- mail server to all incoming mail except e-mail addresses flagged as A- okay. A surprisingly high 42 per cent of respondents said they would consider abandoning e-mail altogether for business communications and find an alternate form of communication (such as the phone, although reports on spam from other companies also suggest a growing increase in the use of instant messenger clients in businesses).
“One of the numbers that really jumped out at me from the survey was that over half of the small businesses reported that they’ll actually consider changing their company e-mail addresses to stop spam. That seems like a pretty big move, showing an indication of how seriously people take this problem,” Mohler said. However, that’s a short-term solution to the problem (ending when the spammers find the new e-mail addresses), and Mohler said the solution to spam is going to require a holistic approach. She added, “there’s no one silver bullet to end spam for us.”
To fight spam, Mohler said small businesses can implement dummy addresses to try to grab a good portion of the spam, but the most important thing is to get filtering software in place. Symantec’s, Norton Anti-Spam, also comes bundled with Norton Internet Security and is available in five- and 10-user small business packs.
Another thing that small businesses can do is to learn about best practices by visiting Symantec’s Spam Watch Response Center for the top 10 tips for protecting privacy and avoiding spam scam, Mohler said.