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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Spam Emails: An Emerging Problem

Management Guru Arindam Chaudhuri Dean Business School IIPM

Are spam-mails gaining the upper hand in our war against them?
Unsolicited bulk e-mail has not only become a part of regular e-mails, but has also emerged as a nerve-wracking problem for businesses and individuals alike. As per a conservative estimate, spam accounts for nearly 83 per cent of all e-mail traffic. It is estimated to cost around $10 billion to American business firms. The objectives of sending spam has also increased along with the increase in frequency of the same. From pornographic solicitations to plain fishing, account holders are bombarded with all kinds of spam for different objectives.

Are we losing the war against spam email? A report by Commtouch Software Ltd released on Jan 2010 said that more than 183 billion spam emails are generated everyday.

Strangely, much spam is also politically motivated. SonicWall estimated that the number of spam that had mentioned a political figure/issue in their subject row crossed the mark of 5 billion in a period of one month during Nov'08 American Presidential Elections. Accounts were flooded with spam declaring to contain “Obama Sex Video!!!” and it was astonishingly generated from “infonews@obama.com.” The email further read as “Sensation!!! US Senator for Illinois Barack Obama in 2007 travelled to Ukraine and had sex action with many Ukrainian girls! You may view this private porno in a flash video. Download and view now. Please send this news to your friends! Obama, it’s not the right choice!!!” But then, as expected, the email had no sex video but a Trojan virus that got downloaded during the process. Even during the Bush-Cheney campaign, bulk spam was generated with a link back to the official campaign site georgewbush.com and another link pointing to an anti-Kerry ad that alleged him being "wrong on defence." A Conservative group grassfire.org sent more than 300,000 e-mails with a link to an online ad where John Kerry and Ted Kennedy were shown as "opponents to conservative values." Similar tactics were also used by an anti-Bush liberal group (moveon.org).

Spam is denting bottom-lines considerably. According to a study conducted in 2009 by Nucleus Research Inc., managing spam costs American corporations more than $70 billion annually and leads to productivity loss of around $700 per employee per year. There is an urgent need for a universal solution regarding spam. Apart from the above mentioned productivity and cash loss, it easily dents profiles of individuals and even causes indirect loss in international trade. While at the individual level, there is little that can be done, and while email portals like Google, Yahoo, MSN can help in blocking these spam emails, unless nations come together in organising a coordinated action against spam sending entities and in shutting them down, we'll lose the fight!

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1 comment:

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