Pew: Spam’s Not Such a Problem at Work

Contradicting the widespread contention that spam has reached a critical level on corporate email systems, the Pew Internet & American Life Project released a survey finding workers encounter little spam while on the job.

The survey results, culled from a telephone survey of nearly 2,500 Internet users, are used by Pew to argue that spam, while a growing problem for personal email accounts, has not had a pervasive effect on the workplace.

Fifty-three percent of work emailers told Pew that nearly all of their incoming mail was work-related, and 71 percent said “a little” of the email they receive at work is spam. The research found nearly 60 percent of respondents receive fewer than 10 email messages per day and half said “none” of their work e-email was spam.

“A small number of the truly inundated work emailers have created most of the buzz about email overload,” the report said.

E-mail marketers fret that spam will increasingly drown out legitimate marketing messages, as users become frustrated by clutter and over-aggressive spam filters throw out the good with the bad. A survey earlier this year by Rick Bruner’s Executive Summary and email marketer Quris found email users reporting spam taking up 28 percent of their in-boxes, including their home and work accounts.

BrightMail, a provider of anti-spam software, tracked 5.5 billion spam attacks on its network in a recent month. Jupiter Research, which is owned by the parent company of this Web site, has predicted that by 2007 the average Internet user will receive up to 3,900 unsolicited email messages per day.

But Pew attributes much of the deluge of spam to users’ home accounts, particularly Hotmail, MSN, Yahoo and AOL. Nearly all of those email providers have taken steps to staunch the flow of spam with improved filters and user-generated blacklists.

Pew said its poll results back up its contention that corporations are doing a fair job of fighting spam, installing email filters and educating employees about spam-prevention techniques, including not verifying their email addresses by opening spam and never posting their corporate email addresses online. For spammers, an email provider such as Hotmail, with tens of millions of users, remains the main target over corporate accounts.

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