What Email Spam Costs Businesses

Email SpamIn recent years, the volume of spam email dealt with by business and domestic computer users alike has grown at a staggering rate. It's no exaggeration to say that most users receive many more spam emails than useful ones, and trawling through the junk can become a time consuming and labour intensive activity. But how can you assess just what email spam is costing your business, and having discovered this, how can you remedy the spam email problem plaguing your business and sucking productivity from your workforce? The guide below will explain.

What is spam email?

Spam email is a type of unwanted email sent out en masse to a huge list of recipients. These emails may be harmless, such as newsletters from specific companies, though they may contain links to sites hosting malicious software or request that a user reply with a raft of sensitive information. Most users are able to spot these emails, but the methods used are becoming more and more sophisticated, and occasionally a user will open one of these links or divulge some personal information, potentially compromising the security of your entire business network. Recognising malicious spam email is the first step to being able to protect against security threats, and to increase the productivity of your employees.

Email spam from co-workers

In addition to email originating from without the company, emails are increasingly coming from within the company itself, sent between co-workers. While these emails usually aren't malicious, they can be huge leeches of time in which you're paying them to work.

What does email spam cost your business?

Spam email is incredibly costly to your business. Just some of the potentially damaging effects of spam email are described in the list below:

  • Deletion of spam email is a time consuming task, said to cost employees 5-6 working hours each month. This results in potential costs to your business of £500 per annum, per employee, just in working hours lost deleting or reading spam email.
  • Spam email originating from within the company is potentially an even greater source of lost working hours, with the worst offending employees spending at least an hour each day reading comical emails from co-workers.
  • When deleting spam email, it's all too easy for a genuine email to end up in the recycle bin. At the very least, this is a small inconvenience. At most, a mistakenly deleted email could lead to lost contracts, missed opportunities, and a reduction in business revenue.
  • Employees can often become stressed with both the frequency of some of the spam emails they receive, and the persistence and forcefulness of the demands for personal details made by some malicious spammers. This has an untold psychological effect on employees, potentially leading to a reduction in productivity of your staff.
  • The more junk mail flowing through your network hardware and email platforms, the more computer resources used up in dealing with these non-productive items. Not only is a staggering amount of extra bandwidth required to deal with the frequently image-rich spam and junk mail being passed to your employees, some don't even bother to delete the junk for fear of dumping something important, thus sequestering valuable space on your servers which could otherwise be used for productive business work.

What can be done to reduce the cost?

In light of the huge costs outlined above, what can be done to make sure your business is at the cutting edge of getting rid of spam email? The first tactic that often springs to mind is the use of spam filters. Some filters simply banish any suspected junk emails to the 'Spam' or 'Junk' folder, and delete them after a prescribed time, without really giving user a chance to check the authenticity of the mail. Some argue that emails mistakenly sent to the junk folder can easily be rescued, and while this is fine for emails you are expecting, unexpected or one-time emails may be caught up in the filters and be lost unnoticed by any employee. An address based system is slightly more reliable in this respect, removing emails sent from known spammers, but this approach may let through dynamically generated addresses, which are becoming more and more common in order to breach address-based spam filters. A mix of both these options is, therefore, likely the best response to a spam email problem. That said, teaching employees how to deal with spam email, and warning them to use personal email and not company servers to share spam email between themselves, is often the best strategy to extinguishing this problem for good.

Spam email is a multi-billion dollar industry, but it's likely costing your business a great deal more than initially thought. Investing in a spam filter and some well-targeted employee training is a great way to keep the cost of spam emails down, and to maximise the productivity of your employees while they're at work.